Most Hamilton students using board iPads despite criticisms

News Feb 26, 2020 by Richard Leitner hamiltonnews.com

They’ve complained they’re too slow, hard to type on and run out of power too quickly, but most Hamilton public secondary students are still choosing to keep and use their school-issued iPads.

For the first time, students in September were given the option of returning their iPad after a six-week trial run if they had their own device to access the school board’s online learning management system, known as The Hub.

The decision to give them a choice came after a 2018 student survey found 97 per cent of respondents were critical of the Apple tablets.

But only about 1,300 students, or about nine per cent, chose to return them after the trial period, superintendent Bill Torrens told trustees in an update on the iPad initiative, which completed a five-year rollout in September.

A January “snapshot” by the board’s digital management system found 72 per cent of students who kept their iPads used them regularly, with most doing so at least once every three days, he said, noting the exam period may have affected usage.

Torrens said Grade 12 students were most likely to return their iPads, accounting for more than 700 of the 1,300 given back.

But he said students who opt out and bring their own device have less access to The Hub because the board can’t guarantee the same level of virus protection as a school-issued iPad.

Torrens said he doesn’t want to draw conclusions about the iPad usage rate without more data, but it raises questions about how they’re being incorporated into the classroom.

Some tasks, like a standard five-paragraph essay, for instance, may be better suited to a laptop or desktop computer because they’re easier to type on, he said, adding a survey planned for this spring will probe how iPads are being used.

The January snapshot found iPad usage is higher in elementary schools, where classroom kits of six devices are issued in Grades 4 to 8.

Eighty-eight per cent of elementary school iPads were used regularly that month, with a majority used at least once every three days.

Trustees in December asked staff for a report on opt-out and usage rates as well as how much schools are spending on computer devices beyond those provided by the board.

Overall, Torrens said, schools used eight per cent of their individual budgets, or about $1 million, in 2018-19 for that purpose, along with a further four per cent of fundraising revenue, or $126,000.

Ward 3 trustee Maria Felix Miller said the extra spending on computer devices tells her schools are filling a budget gap and she’s concerned some are better able to do so than others.

“If we’re missing it by a million dollars, there can’t be equity,” she said. “There are schools in my area that can’t pay for buses for trips, so how much money do they have left over to spend on (this)?”

Associate director Peter Sovran said school budgets are designed to let individual schools spend their allocation where they feel it’s most needed.

“While we provide a lot at a system level, there’s a reason why we actually provision schools with budgets, so that they can make local decisions on what to spend the money on,” he said.


Most Hamilton students using board iPads despite criticisms

Only 9 per cent opt out in favour of own device, trustees told

News Feb 26, 2020 by Richard Leitner hamiltonnews.com

They’ve complained they’re too slow, hard to type on and run out of power too quickly, but most Hamilton public secondary students are still choosing to keep and use their school-issued iPads.

For the first time, students in September were given the option of returning their iPad after a six-week trial run if they had their own device to access the school board’s online learning management system, known as The Hub.

The decision to give them a choice came after a 2018 student survey found 97 per cent of respondents were critical of the Apple tablets.

But only about 1,300 students, or about nine per cent, chose to return them after the trial period, superintendent Bill Torrens told trustees in an update on the iPad initiative, which completed a five-year rollout in September.

A January “snapshot” by the board’s digital management system found 72 per cent of students who kept their iPads used them regularly, with most doing so at least once every three days, he said, noting the exam period may have affected usage.

Torrens said Grade 12 students were most likely to return their iPads, accounting for more than 700 of the 1,300 given back.

But he said students who opt out and bring their own device have less access to The Hub because the board can’t guarantee the same level of virus protection as a school-issued iPad.

Torrens said he doesn’t want to draw conclusions about the iPad usage rate without more data, but it raises questions about how they’re being incorporated into the classroom.

Some tasks, like a standard five-paragraph essay, for instance, may be better suited to a laptop or desktop computer because they’re easier to type on, he said, adding a survey planned for this spring will probe how iPads are being used.

The January snapshot found iPad usage is higher in elementary schools, where classroom kits of six devices are issued in Grades 4 to 8.

Eighty-eight per cent of elementary school iPads were used regularly that month, with a majority used at least once every three days.

Trustees in December asked staff for a report on opt-out and usage rates as well as how much schools are spending on computer devices beyond those provided by the board.

Overall, Torrens said, schools used eight per cent of their individual budgets, or about $1 million, in 2018-19 for that purpose, along with a further four per cent of fundraising revenue, or $126,000.

Ward 3 trustee Maria Felix Miller said the extra spending on computer devices tells her schools are filling a budget gap and she’s concerned some are better able to do so than others.

“If we’re missing it by a million dollars, there can’t be equity,” she said. “There are schools in my area that can’t pay for buses for trips, so how much money do they have left over to spend on (this)?”

Associate director Peter Sovran said school budgets are designed to let individual schools spend their allocation where they feel it’s most needed.

“While we provide a lot at a system level, there’s a reason why we actually provision schools with budgets, so that they can make local decisions on what to spend the money on,” he said.


Most Hamilton students using board iPads despite criticisms

Only 9 per cent opt out in favour of own device, trustees told

News Feb 26, 2020 by Richard Leitner hamiltonnews.com

They’ve complained they’re too slow, hard to type on and run out of power too quickly, but most Hamilton public secondary students are still choosing to keep and use their school-issued iPads.

For the first time, students in September were given the option of returning their iPad after a six-week trial run if they had their own device to access the school board’s online learning management system, known as The Hub.

The decision to give them a choice came after a 2018 student survey found 97 per cent of respondents were critical of the Apple tablets.

But only about 1,300 students, or about nine per cent, chose to return them after the trial period, superintendent Bill Torrens told trustees in an update on the iPad initiative, which completed a five-year rollout in September.

A January “snapshot” by the board’s digital management system found 72 per cent of students who kept their iPads used them regularly, with most doing so at least once every three days, he said, noting the exam period may have affected usage.

Torrens said Grade 12 students were most likely to return their iPads, accounting for more than 700 of the 1,300 given back.

But he said students who opt out and bring their own device have less access to The Hub because the board can’t guarantee the same level of virus protection as a school-issued iPad.

Torrens said he doesn’t want to draw conclusions about the iPad usage rate without more data, but it raises questions about how they’re being incorporated into the classroom.

Some tasks, like a standard five-paragraph essay, for instance, may be better suited to a laptop or desktop computer because they’re easier to type on, he said, adding a survey planned for this spring will probe how iPads are being used.

The January snapshot found iPad usage is higher in elementary schools, where classroom kits of six devices are issued in Grades 4 to 8.

Eighty-eight per cent of elementary school iPads were used regularly that month, with a majority used at least once every three days.

Trustees in December asked staff for a report on opt-out and usage rates as well as how much schools are spending on computer devices beyond those provided by the board.

Overall, Torrens said, schools used eight per cent of their individual budgets, or about $1 million, in 2018-19 for that purpose, along with a further four per cent of fundraising revenue, or $126,000.

Ward 3 trustee Maria Felix Miller said the extra spending on computer devices tells her schools are filling a budget gap and she’s concerned some are better able to do so than others.

“If we’re missing it by a million dollars, there can’t be equity,” she said. “There are schools in my area that can’t pay for buses for trips, so how much money do they have left over to spend on (this)?”

Associate director Peter Sovran said school budgets are designed to let individual schools spend their allocation where they feel it’s most needed.

“While we provide a lot at a system level, there’s a reason why we actually provision schools with budgets, so that they can make local decisions on what to spend the money on,” he said.