Student iPad Perceptions Differ Across Grade Levels


Anthony Miller, Writer

   This year General McLane High School gave iPads to the student body, and needless to say, reactions were mixed. Seniors in particular detested the iPads, taking to Twitter and other social media sites to complain about the new devices. When asked about the backlash, the some faculty claim that the only reason seniors hate the iPads is because they aren’t used to them, and that the freshmen love them because they’ve been using them longer. We held two polls over the past few weeks to gauge senior and freshman reactions to the iPads The results for the polls seem to be polar opposites, with seniors being more negative towards the iPads while the freshmen are much more positive towards them.

The divide in opinion between the seniors and freshmen on this issue is surprising. In fact, some of the polls seem to be direct mirrors of one another. 43 percent of the senior body said the iPads were not useful. Meanwhile, only 22 percent of freshmen came to the same conclusion. Compare that to the seniors’ 43 percent, and the divide becomes clear.

Even more shocking, apathy seems to be incredibly common on both sides. 35 percent of seniors say they’re indifferent to the iPads, while 31 percent of the freshmen share the same feeling of indifference. But what about feeling of positivity towards the iPads? 22 percent of seniors agreed with the statement they’re used to enhance learning, while 48 percent of freshmen agreed with the same statement.
We gave students the opportunity to leave comments on what they thought of them.  Their feedback illustrates the divide rather well.

   Seniors left comments such as,“The iPads were a horrible idea,” “I hate them and hate charging them,” “They’re annoying to work with and Schoology never works” and probably the most harsh, “They are awful! Worst decision GM has ever made.”

   While Freshmen left much more accepting and positive comments about the iPads, like, “They’re pretty good,”  “I think the iPad’s were a good idea,” “Very useful for homework and assignments,” and “They were a great investment!”

   While there were some comments from both seniors and freshman that went against the grain and criticized/praised the iPads, the consensus on both sides is clear. Seniors hate the iPads and think they were a waste of time, while freshmen think they’ve been a great investment of time and money. The cause for this divide isn’t clear, but it can be speculated that it stems from a variety of sources. It’s possible the freshmen have had more time to get used to the iPads, while for the seniors who leave here later this month, it felt like a third wheel because they never got acquainted with them.  Another possible reason could be that teachers are also resisting the change or are taking small steps to incorporate them into their curriculum and therefore may not be using the iPads to their fullest potential.

   There is one complaint both students and teachers have about the iPads, the gaming.  Not only were plenty of comments left on the survey about how students will just play games instead of working, and teachers seem to agree that while the iPads are helpful, the gaming is a problem. “I think many teachers are using them to good ends. The good part is the access to information and texts. The ongoing challenge is the students using them to game and be distracted from learning,” stated Mr. Guzik.

    Most teachers seem to agree that the iPads have been a surprisingly good thing for the school.  Even teachers who initially had reservations about the iPads grew to like them, like Mr. Jenkins who stated, “I was reluctant to use them at first, but I’m pleased with how useful they actually are in three areas. Communicating with students, accepting student work, and review exercises,” Another teacher that was won over by the iPads was Mrs. Mumau.  “I think overall they’ve been a good thing. As an English Teacher I was a little reserved because we used laptops for essays due to their keyboard. The lack of keyboards gave me pause. The decision to purchase Schoology was a great one, it makes the students more responsible for their actions,” she stated. Each teacher contacted for this article seemed to echo that sentiment, they warmed up to the iPads after a while. Some teachers, like Mrs. Morosky, wanted to do more with the iPads, such as using them to expand reading and learning, but upon investigation the cost for the online book services is too high.

   Survey results also indicated that only about 35 percent of seniors will continue using the iPads as an educational
tool once they leave GMHS.  That may be good and true, but for the underclassmen here, one thing is clear, love ’em or hate ’em iPads are here to stay.