If Mr. Day’s iPad-aided convocation address showed anything, it is that this is going to be a tech-heavy school year. Teachers at the Academy are leading the charge to integrate technology more deeply into the curriculum than ever.
Walk into Ms. Stevens’ AP World History class, and you will see her at the front of the class using her renowned ActivBoard prowess with a class full of students looking at the relevant maps or text on their iPads. Mr. Hornor is gracing his AP Art History class with lighter loads by giving students the option to download the e-text of the APAH textbook that is normally thick and heavy with hundreds of pictures and descriptions. In addition (heads up, juniors), he now has a wireless keyboard and mouse, and will pass them off to random juniors in AP U.S. History to come up with an acceptable AP thesis on the fly. Check out the newly divided presentation room on the bottom level of the Upper School, where both of the classrooms have new, massive ActivBoards for HD presentations. Open up the computer lab or foreign language carts and see the brand new, razor-thin MacBook Airs. Even Ms. Smith has an iPad so she can call you a sleaze in “Words with Friends.”
It is not just new hardware that is making its debut, however. Teachers are using new software services like Dropbox, Google Docs, and WebAssign for homework assignments and lessons. Underclassmen may soon find that their assignment is to collaborate on a history outline with their classmates to create communal notes in Google Docs, or see that Ms. Smith has deposited another 30 articles into their Dropbox to read by tomorrow.
If students in certain classes are going to be required to buy iPads and e-texts, there appears to be an obvious question: will students be mandated to buy certain laptops to comply with the new services and software that teachers are signing up for? What precedent does this set for a school which, until now, has been laptop-optional? Mr. Assaf was reticent, responding, “I’d say that it is way too early to make any strong policy statement about this pilot program. Instead, I would focus on the fact that Pace believes that the best technology is a great teacher and that we are having working faculty groups in each division evaluate the efficacy of this iPad as a teaching tool. We are VERY grateful to the Parents Club for supporting this initiative.”
iPad-dependent classes and overall technology integration are really expected to expand in the freshmen’s upcoming year. The thinking on the part of administration is that eventually students would get an iPad at the start of freshman year, then carry that device through their high school career. Exciting times are ahead at the cutting-edge Academy.
By Simon Wu, Technology Editor ’12
Photo: Simon Wu