Regis Jesuit closing the book on texts as it opens new era in ‘tech-books’

Teachers can tell students to come into class with a “clean slate” on the devices, he said, meaning all the applications are turned off except the ones they need for that class

By BRANDON JOHANSSON Staff Writer

AURORA | Students at Regis Jesuit High School can count on lighter backpacks this school year as the school ditches heavy textbooks in favor of skinny iPads.

But at about $600 a pop for each student, buying the pricey devices will mean lighter wallets for their parents, too.

Jason Beyer, an educational technology supervisor at the school, said the minimum requirement for the device is an iPad 3 with 32 gigabytes of memory. 

Those retail for $599 at Apple’s website, but can be found for slightly less on sale at various retailers. 

Regis iPads

Social Studies instructor Heidi Kabadi waits to sign in for a teachers' workshop covering how to implement iPads in the classroom Aug. 11 at Regis Jesuit High School. The school is requiring all students to purchase an iPad along with specific applications and eBooks that total between $500 and $700. (Marla R. Keown/Aurora Sentinel)

Regis iPads

Teachers toss out potential useful iPad applications during a teachers' workshop covering how to implement iPads in the classroom Aug. 11 at Regis Jesuit High School. The school is requiring all students to purchase an iPad along with specific applications and eBooks that total between $500 and $700. (Marla R. Keown/Aurora Sentinel)

Regis iPads

Social Studies teacher Chris McHugh opens up his iPad for a teachers' workshop covering how to implement iPads in the classroom Aug. 11 at Regis Jesuit High School. The school is requiring all students to purchase an iPad along with specific applications and eBooks that total between $500 and $700. (Marla R. Keown/Aurora Sentinel)

Regis iPads

Physical Education instructor Ryan Taylor opens up his iPad for a teachers' workshop covering how to implement iPads in the classroom Aug. 11 at Regis Jesuit High School. The school is requiring all students to purchase an iPad along with specific applications and eBooks that total between $500 and $700. (Marla R. Keown/Aurora Sentinel)

Regis iPads

Zach George opens up his iPad for a teachers' workshop covering how to implement iPads in the classroom Aug. 11 at Regis Jesuit High School. The school is requiring all students to purchase an iPad along with specific applications and eBooks that total between $500 and $700. (Marla R. Keown/Aurora Sentinel)

Regis iPads

Beyer said school officials looked at allowing the less-expensive iPad Mini, but they opted for the standard size after discussing it with some other Jesuit schools that ran into trouble with some advanced science text books not translating well to the smaller display. 

The 32 gigabytes of memory are important, too, Beyer said, because students are being asked to do a lot with the devices, including storing textbooks on them. 

“That space fills up really quick,” he said. 

The larger model means the devices should last longer before the memory is tapped, he said. 

Other Jesuit schools have gone with other similar devices, he said, including Google Chromebooks and other laptops, but the bulk that have required a similar device have gone with the iPad. 

“We have learned from what other people are learning,” he said. 

Students won’t be able to completely scrap classic paper-bound books this year, but Regis Jesuit officials hope that one day that will be the case. 

Will Cropper, another educational technology supervisor at the school helping to launch the program, said school officials have run into a few titles that aren’t yet available on the iPad. 

“This year is a bit of a mix,” he said. 

While the devices are expensive, Cropper and Beyer said that in the long run, they hope the cost savings on books will even out with the cost of the device.

“That makes it easier for the parents to swallow,” Cropper said.

Beyer said there are a few cases where an electronic version of a book is more expensive than a paper version, but that isn’t a common occurrence. Beyer, who also teaches theology, said one of the books his students need typically costs $52 for a paper edition, but only $12 for a digital version.

As for the cost of the device themselves, the school has a link on its website pointing parents to deals on iPads, while students who qualify for tuition assistance may also qualify for assistance to buy the devices.

Cropper said that school officials expect a bit of a learning curve when it comes to how students use the devices in the classroom, and whether the devices can be a distraction if they aren’t used properly.

“That was probably the No. 1 concern of our faculty,” he said.

Teachers can tell students to come into class with a “clean slate” on the devices, he said, meaning all the applications are turned off except the ones they need for that class.

Beyer said that beyond the ease with which the devices will allow students to get books, it is also important that the students understand how the devices work because they are becoming more common in professional settings.

None of the public schools in the area require similar devices, though officials at both Aurora Public Schools and Cherry Creek School District said they utilize iPads and other similar technology in the classroom regularly.

  • Caspar’s dad

    Nice article. A bit overlooked, however, is that iPad and similar devices are what the students will most likely be using in the working world in 5 to 9 years. Getting comfortable early with the many uses and functions of the devices will be of immeasurable help for the future. Nice job RJ.

  • KeepItSimple

    As RJHS parent and IT professional, I will say that this change has thus far been a biased, poorly-planned, whitewashed, and pointless exercise in pursuit of hype. Most RJHS students already had perfectly-functional (and perhaps more useful) notebook computers, for instance, and forcing them to use iPads disrupts the continuity of their experience. My kid uses his notebook and drags his iPad along for when it’s required for something. Also, forcing a single platform is silly, especially when compelling options are available from other providers. The bloat of applications required (4-5 each of presentation and note-taking apps, for instance) indicates lack of focus and sets the stage for confusion down the road. It appears that the teachers (even the young ones) aren’t so thrilled about the program, either.

    This change, and especially the “decision process” behind it, have been the low point of our time at RJHS. Sure there are ways that technology can be better integrated into the educational experience. This does not appear to be one of them.

  • JR7119_R

    I agree with KeepItSimple, as current RJHS parent, I see so many shortfalls with this migration. It hasn’t been smooth and there are more issues, not only financially but technically, to address for both students & parents. First, the article doesn’t mention the fact that not only do you have to purchase the IPAD, but also they are requiring students to purchase additional software instead of looking for free alternative versions. Now, there are subjects that technology will never replace the use of a book, pen and paper. Examples, the Sciences and Math subjects where you actually need to write down formulas and homework on paper. Some of the current applications that are being used as a replacement also tends to cause more work for everyone when a hand written homework paper won’t. The applications being used are NOT perfect and will mark a question wrong when it can’t recognize characters, which force the student to go back and work with the teacher to constantly review. This is a waste of time and avoidable. Also, when taking timed tests & quizzes, the student must remember to make sure they don’t have background services running that will cause delays or take over the CPU processing in order to make sure that enough free resources are available to keep the timer going. In the business world, sure you have folks that use IPADs as a secondary device while the main device is still a Laptop or Desktop, but to justify this program using that is pretty bold. For the past 8 years, we try to save money by using various book buying websites to find the lowest price, we avoid using the recommend it book buying site when ever possible and most of the time we are able to find books at a fraction of the price.

FindIt!