A Tech Girl’s First-Hand View of the Future of Education

This blog post was written by Ariel Gabay, a ninth-grader at Kohelet Yeshiva High School.

I first heard that the Kohelet Foundation was going to be rolling out a SmartSchool Program last year. The idea was that every school in the Jewish Day School Collaborative was going to be receiving an iPad and that teachers were going to be incorporating the iPad into our curriculum. I also heard that Kohelet Yeshiva High School was going to be one of the first schools to participate in the program, and I honestly thought it was just a rumor.  But sure enough, at orientation this fall, there was a whole iPad presentation, and I thought – wow, this is going to be the coolest thing ever! During the presentation they showed us how interactive and useful the iPad is. Although I was so excited and the idea seemed amazing, I knew it was still going to be a difficult transition for us to get used to using the iPads on a daily basis in the classroom.

When we first received our own iPad, it was great. I felt empowered – that the future of my education was literally at my fingertips. They had us freshmen, along with the sophomores, in one classroom to set up the systems. To set up our iPads, we had to go through complex steps to activate it. For example, we had to set up our iTunes accounts, emails and passwords and click on several links to get each process started. It was a little overwhelming and complicated, but we finally got through it.

The first day we used the iPads was so confusing, and I started having mixed emotions about using it. Classes were challenging because we didn’t know when we should be using the iPad or taking notes on paper. Plus, not every application was set up, and we kept hitting roadblocks.

But after the first week or so of using the iPad and getting all the proper applications up and running on my tablet, everything started falling into place. The teachers also started getting the hang of using the iPad, so it made opening up worksheets in Notability, which is our note-taking application, much easier and less stressful. We started using our iPads to take online quizzes for biology, we started looking things up on the Internet, typing up essays, writing down our homework in our planners, using textbooks, and just taking notes. I was starting to get the hang of it! I also knew once the major transition was over, that the iPad would be a great tool for learning. But I won’t lie, that first week was hectic.

Now that I have been using the iPad for a while, I realize how amazing and privileged we are to have them. In class when a teacher asks a question and no one knows the answer, or they want us to look up a specific fact, we can just Google it. It’s truly incredible what the iPad is capable of doing. When I’m taking notes in classes using Notability, I can type up my notes and then also draw diagrams on the side.

When we open up worksheets in Notability we can highlight things right then and there and write little comments or translations on the worksheets.

Also, the history textbook that I have is incredible. It has videos you can click on and commentaries you can listen to, simply with the tap of a finger. The iPad is highly interactive, and I think that it makes me think more during class. It makes learning more interesting and fun for me, and the fact that we’re even using an iPad during class, is just really cool. In the bigger picture of all this, I also believe that we are going green and looking towards sustainability and really helping out our planet. There are barely even any handouts anymore – everything is right there on the iPad.

I think that in the years to come the iPad will continue to prove itself. The school has already gone through the transition, so everyone will be experts at using the iPad (aside from each incoming freshman class), and everything will run smoothly. Also, I anticipate the Kohelet Foundation working with our tech company and Apple to bring us the latest and greatest technology out there to incorporate into the iPad and further our education. I truly believe that we will be able to learn so much more with the iPads, and it will be interesting to see the transformation of using the iPad now as a 9th grader and what will be enhanced on the iPad by the time I’m a senior. I definitely look forward to the years ahead.