Alexis Crawford Explores the Issues Created by Northmont’s iPads


Senior Shelby Didier and sophomore Sammie Helmund depict the iPad versus paper debate.

Alexis Crawford, Staff Writer

In 2013, every freshman student was given an iPad to use for “academic” activities at Northmont High School.

However, two years later, are the iPads benefitting students’ learning, or are they simply creating other issues? Many students and teachers would agree with the latter: iPads only hinder the students that use them. With this technology at students’ disposal five days a week while at school, the iPads can play a large part in some students’ low scores. The iPads can easily set students up for failure with the unreliability of the internet connection as well as common technical issues. Some students also find it harder to organize their schoolwork on the iPads, which can also serve as a distraction from learning in the classroom.

Northmont’s technology specialist, Ms. Jean Bennett, deals with countless students with iPad issues from her office in the back of the IMC. She typically has up to 10 students each day seeking help with commonly-experienced issues. Among the problems students have, the most common dilemmas are deleted information, application issues, and drops in the internet connection. Bennett said most iPads can be fixed in one day, with other issues requiring two days of maintenance. This sets students back in classes which are iPad-based.

While papers are somewhat harder to keep tabs on, when a student has the right mindset and correct materials paper is a lot easier than worrying if a document was saved or if a speech got deleted. Paper may be easier to lose, but its also easy to lose homework on the iPads when the internet is unreliable or technical surprises are encountered. Papers can also take effort to organize, but binders and folders are helpful tools to prevent this. When organizing on the iPads, students can get lost in the mess of technology, applications, and what the teacher specifically wants to be done with each assignment. With folders, students know where to put everything for each class and each teacher. On the iPads, students often have everything in one location, not knowing what is for which class.

Last year, freshman and sophomore students had the option to download apps as they wished, creating an alarming distraction for those students in the classroom. Over the summer, the administration decided to take this freedom away. Although this move temporarily limited distractions, students have become creative and found new ways around the safeguards.

In a study done by The New York Times, 90% of teachers polled who use tech in the classroom said technology in the classroom is creating a distracted generation with short attention spans. The iPads clearly have a negative effect on how students are retaining information taught in classes. Similarly,  students in a math class at NHS overwhelmingly reported they preferred paper over the iPads, with 97% of them agreeing that paper would be a better fit for learning.

With Quarter One coming to a close, report cards being issued, and Best of the Bolts being announced, some students may be dealing with disappointment. However, maybe they should be disappointed in the iPads, as these lackluster performances could be a product of too much technology at our disposal.