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Q&A: Why give free iPads to 50,000 pupils?

Scotland’s schools are changing and classrooms are becoming digitally smart. Take Glasgow City Council which is funding brand new iPads for pupils. The project will see every child from P6 to S6 given their own device to keep; faster internet connections and the installation of wi-fi in every classroom. But how will it work?

Who owns the iPad and do parents have to pay for them?

Pupils don’t pay for this piece of kit, it will always be the property of Glasgow City Council. However, once handed to the child the iPad is their responsibility – they can take it home and even use it over the school holidays. In fact each pupil will be able to keep the tablet until they leave school. But before they move on they will return it to the classroom for it to be reused by a new pupil.

Can pupils access the internet on their iPads?

Pupils can access the internet from the device, but the council’s firewall remains switched on to block inappropriate sites. Social media sites will also be blocked from use. That said, pupils will be able to send each other messages when working on group tasks. Each pupil sets up a unique password on their tablet that only they will know.

Will pupils use iPads in exams?

The conditions for exams – such as National 5s and Highers – are set nationally and are not the responsibility of individual schools and councils. They are expected to be enforced vigilantly. As such, pupils will not be allowed to use iPads in exams.

The use of iPads in the classroom is designed to enhance lessons and teaching but will not make traditional methods, such as jotters or textbooks, obsolete.

What happens if pupils break their iPad?

All iPads have been provided with a protective case. Schools do have spare iPads, however, personal responsibility is encouraged with pupils urged to look after their iPad in the same way they would look after their mobile phone. If a tablet is lost the parents need to contact the school and then the device will be wiped remotely. Only the equipment provided by the school should be used for protecting or charging the device.

How often will pupils use the iPads in school?

Pupils looking at iPad
Image caption It’s thought that pupils will be using their ipads in every lesson

The pupils will use the iPads every period across all subjects. Pupils can record photos and videos but they must ensure that they only do this with permission and that the recordings are appropriate. Pupils will be taught about the importance of password security however they should not store any sensitive information on their iPads.

How do teachers mark the work done on an iPad?

While in class, teachers are able to Airdrop tasks to the pupils’ iPads and the pupils can then Airdrop the completed work back to teachers. Teachers can mark the pupils’ work digitally by highlighting sections, zooming in on words or paragraphs, and writing text on top of the work. They can also record voice notes so that pupils have verbal feedback.

Teachers are provided with a pen and keyboard to use with the iPads they will be given. The schools still have desktop computers and projectors. Teachers are only able to monitor what pupils access on the iPads within the classroom. Staff are not able to monitor what pupils do on their iPads at home, however the firewall is always in place.

Is there a risk that pupils will become distracted in class by the iPads?

There is the potential that pupils may become distracted, but teachers would manage this in the same way that they would if a pupil was distracted in class talking to their friends. Also to combat this potential distraction, teachers can monitor what pupils are doing on the iPad. If teachers feel that the pupils are going off task, they can lock the iPads so that the pupils cannot use them.

Where is the money coming from and who is making it happen?

The iPad rollout is part of a seven-year deal between Glasgow City Council and Canadian IT firm CGI. The entire project is worth in excess of £300m but the council said it was not possible to break down the cost of the tablets for pupils.

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