DerryNews.com, Derry, New Hampshire

September 6, 2012

Editorial: Used judiciously, iPads can be useful school tools


Derry News

---- — Tuesday is primary day in New Hampshire. Democrats and Republicans will elect their candidates who will compete in the November general election. Independents can choose either a Republican or Democratic ballot in the primary.

We encourage our readers to get out to the polls and vote. There are plenty of contested races and candidates from which to choose. There are races for governor, Congress, county sheriff, state representative and state senators.

The biggest race is the contest for governor. Three Democrats and two Republicans are competing to succeed Democratic Gov. John Lynch.

On the Democratic side, Maggie Hassan, a former state senator from Exeter, is running against Jackie Cilley, a former state senator from Barrington and Bill Kennedy, a businessman from Danbury.

For the Republicans, Kevin Smith of Litchfield, a former legislator who was an aide to Gov. Craig Benson, faces Ovide Lamontagne of Manchester, runner-up to Kelly Ayotte in the 2010 GOP Senate primary.

For Congress in the 1st District, incumbent Republican Frank Guinta of Manchester faces two primary challengers: Vernon Clough, a registered nurse from Dover and Rick Parent, a marine engineer from Wolfeboro. Democrat Carol Shea-Porter of Rochester, who lost the 1st District seat to Guinta in 2010, is unchallenged in the primary.

Primary elections tend to draw little interest from voters and turnouts are generally low. However, with important contests for governor and Congress voters have ample reason to cast their ballots.

Used judiciously, iPads can be useful school tools

What person, young or old, is not fascinated by the latest electronic gadgets? Such devices allow us to play games, read books and news, listen to music or send messages to friends.

They can also be extraordinary learning tools in the right hands and with proper guidance.

In Londonderry, juniors and seniors in advanced placement environmental science will be part of a pilot program to see just how useful consumer electronic devices can be in a classroom setting. The students will have their own iPads to use this school year. The goal is to bring new teaching styles and new technology into the classroom.

The pilot project, which cost about $14,300, will provide 34 students and two teachers with iPads to use this school year. The tablets must be returned at the end of the school year. But students are allowed to use them outside the classroom, provided it is related to schoolwork.

“These will be tools for education, not social devices or toys,” Londonderry High teacher William Knee told reporter James Niedzinski.

That, of course is key. Apple’s iPad can do just about anything its user demands. It can be used to send email or texts, communicate via social media, play music and games, surf the Internet, or take pictures and upload them to the Web.

And while it can, indeed, be used to do research for one’s environmental science project, it can also be used to get into a great deal of mischief. Anyone who understands the nature of teenagers knows the futility of an order that these devices must only be used for schoolwork.

A good number of the students in Londonderry’s advanced placement classes may already have their own iPads or similar devices. They may even be using them — in between bouts of social networking — to help with their homework.

These devices are part of modern life. There is no reason not to use them in a school setting — as long as they are truly used as aids to learning and not merely as fancy, new publicly subsidized toys.