From my research the “Heavy Schoolbags Problem” is still a matter to be eradicated for most schools around Ireland & even Internationally. More than 150 out of the full 730 secondary schools of Ireland are now using iPads to either entirely substitute or supplement textbook learning in class. This is good news for some lucky students but there are still hundreds of thousands still lugging heavy bags in and out of school, In terms of equality in education this is unfair. Personally in my own school, iPads or Tablets are not being used in-class and I can’t understand exactly why this is. But don’t take my word for it; the topic of heavy schoolbags is extensively documented in forums around the internet by concerned parents.
I can relate to the topic of heavy-schoolbags particularly around exam-time which is a stressful time as it is. Schoolbags can weigh in-excess of 20kg in certain cases. General guidelines suggest the ‘Mála Scoile’ should not exceed 10kg in any case (10% of a students bodyweight), but this limit is generalised and cannot be practically enforced. I believe iPads are the best solution to this issue as they weigh around 440 grams or just 2% of a 15Kg schoolbag.
Not only do they solve a weight issue, great learning resources are becoming available to everyone in the form of Apps and iBooks. I’m sure a lot could be said for iPads for teachers as well! After-all Teachers often have to carry several textbooks, tens of copies and hundreds of exam scripts to classrooms.
From my visit to Our Lady’s Grove in Clonskeagh, Dublin last week, I have witnessed the true impact iPads can have on learning, by creating a fun learning environment and simultaneously benefiting students with their Computer/ Digital Literacy. An Asset which may prove invaluable to them in the future with the development of Dublin, Cork & Galway as Hubs for big Tech Companies.
The environmental impact of this switch to iPads is positive in-terms of tree harvesting, for example a standard Junior Cert Science textbook may have 400 pages and weigh 1kg… this textbook must then be replicated 160,000 times just to satisfy one set of Junior Cert Cycle Students. What happens if there are new editions? Dump the old ones and print another 160,000 copies! However Science is just one of the 22 Junior Cert subjects so all and all you’re looking at millions of textbooks and copies in total. That’s not even mentioning the Ink production costs and impact. With this being the European Year of Development (#EYD2015) I strongly feel that we should become aware of the environmental impact of what we do everyday and review our actions accordingly. I believe this wasteful attitude towards textbook production should be reviewed internationally not just domestically.
While some argue iPads take more energy to produce, they are certainly more sustainable in the long run if you can obtain all of your textbooks in a zero-carbon footprint manner (involving no physical manufacturing or tree harvesting). Recent studies show that one iPad costs about €1 to charge per year. You get the drift, these are just some viewpoints as to why I believe iPads should have a prominent location in Global Education and we should all look to create ‘Smart Classrooms’ in our Schools.