Next year’s first year students at Mercy Secondary School in Ballymahon are set to become the first students in County Longford to use Apple iPads instead of textbooks, according to the school’s Deputy Principal Micheál Walsh. Speaking to the Leader earlier this week, Mr Walsh said the school hopes to be in the position to offer each first year student who enrols in the south Longford school from 2013 and beyond, the option of using the tablet instead of textbooks.
Mr Walsh said that the school plans to meet with parents after enrolment next September and speak with them about introducing the tablets into their child’s education. Speaking about the benefits of iPads as a learning tool, he said: “The resources which an iPad offers are excellent and they are certainly the best option in terms of education. They provide top quality videos, imagery and a whole range of top class e-books which the students can learn from.”
One problem which has plagued school children of Ireland over the years, has been the weight of their schoolbags due to the number of books they carry. Micheál says the advent of e-learning and studying from tablets eliminates this problem for good. “This will reduce the weight of the average schoolbag significantly. Obviously we will still use copybooks but it takes the weight of those larger textbooks away.”
With any initiative such as this one, the obvious first question from the parent is “how much?” With the iPads set to cost between E700 and E750, Mr Walsh ensured that, with the help of a local financial institution in Ballymahon, parents will not have to fork out over the odds. “We are currently in negotiations with the local Credit Union here in Ballymahon. We are looking at maybe bringing the cost down to just E5 a week through instalments but nothing is concrete yet.”
Mr Walsh also reaffirmed the school’s position on the option of purchasing the iPad in that it is totally at the pupil and their family’s discretion. He concluded: “We are giving the student an option, it is not compulsory. The option is still there to continue with textbooks but so far we have had a positive reaction from students, their parents and the teachers who will work with the software.”