The scene of students diligently taking notes in a classroom is familiar to us all. However, the usual spiral notebooks and binders full of handouts are becoming a thing of the past; instead, they have been replaced by their 21st century counterpart, the iPad. Since its introduction a decade ago, the iPad has quickly found its place in classrooms especially after the invention of the Apple Pencil, which provides users an experience that is remarkably close to, if not better than, that of writing on real paper. This particular feature is the primary reason for its popularity among students.
|[Jiwoo Lee taking notes on an iPad during class. Photo taken by: Jeong Bin Kim]|
My school (Korean International School Jeju, KISJ), however, shows tacit disapproval towards the use of iPads, and it may have legitimate reasons for it. At the beginning of each semester, KISJ students hand in their laptops to the IT office to have them modified to restrict the use of applications that might interfere with classroom activities, such as Facebook or Instagram. However, since the school does not currently have a policy for modifying iPads, students are free to use them during class while also being able to message their classmates using KakaoTalk, check out Instagram posts, and play mobile games. Despite the concerns raised by the school and the distractions it may cause, using an iPad has many advantages, and I can see it only becoming much more prevalent in the future.
First, taking notes is much easier and more efficient on an iPad than on actual paper. I have been using GoodNotes, one of the most popular note-taking apps, to take notes in class. The GoodNotes app allows me to take notes efficiently that writing on paper seems prehistoric in comparison. For example, I can insert images or specific pages from textbooks anywhere in my notes without using scissors or glue. Annotating my notes with additional information is also much easier on my iPad because the contents can be moved around freely and additional pages can be inserted between notes. The function that I have found most useful is the search function, with which I can search for keywords in my notes and see the pages containing the keyword right away, similar to creating an index for my notes. Minjae Lee and Jenny Hwang, who also use iPads in class at KISJ, said using iPads also reduces the weight of their backpacks because they do not need to carry multiple notebooks or heavy textbooks. Their notes for each subject are all organized in separate folders, and textbooks these days are readily available as ebooks or PDF files.
|[Jeong Bin Kim’s notes for physics. Photo taken by: Jeong Bin Kim]|
The iPad can also be used as an excellent remote learning device for online lessons, which have become more common in the era of COVID-19. From my personal experience, the most important aspect of online learning is having effective communication with the instructor. The laptop camera may be able to show me the instructor’s face, but that is about it. With my iPad, the communication can be more interactive. For example, I can write down my work on my iPad using one of the many digital whiteboard apps and get it checked by my instructor through the screen share feature that is available on Skype or Zoom. I can even do and send homework assignments to my instructor without ever having to print or scan a single sheet of paper.
|[Doing an interview with Jenny Hwang while taking notes on my iPad.
Photo taken by: Jeong Bin Kim]
The benefits of using iPads in the classroom seem to only grow thanks to the increasing number of apps available on the App Store. As mentioned earlier, iPads can also be a distraction since the App Store provides various games and social media apps as well. However, I hope that schools will closely examine the pros of using iPads rather than focusing on the cons and even facilitate the use of iPads for classroom activities as it seems like we are headed towards a paperless future, if we’re not there already.
Jeong Bin Kim
Korea International School Jeju
Jeong Bin Kim email@example.com
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