Wednesday 16 April 2014

Switch to e-books was 'an unmitigated disaster', says school principal

The ‘book to e-book’ move was deemed a disaster following major technical issues with the majority of the HP Elite Pad tablet devices. (Generic photo)

A principal has called the move to switch students from books to tablets “an unmitigated disaster” and has ordered new books for the first year classes.

The ‘book to e-book’ move was deemed a disaster following major technical issues with the majority of the HP Elite Pad tablet devices.

Families of students at the Mountrath Community College in Laois paid €550 for the devices at the beginning of the school-year.

They did have the option to pay for the tablets in instalments.

“We had a number of issues with the devices,” principal Martin Gleeson told

“We met with HP yesterday, not for the first time, and they are doing everything in their power to resolve the problem.

“In the meantime, we have replaced all the tablets with books for the students. The parents do not have to pay for these.

“We’re not blaming anyone, HP have said the issue is a priority for them.”

In a letter sent to parents, Mr Gleeson wrote, “The roll-out of e-learning which involved the use of HP Elite Pads and e-books should have been an exciting and new way of moving forward.

“The HP Elite Pad has proved to be an unmitigated disaster. We have met with HP representatives on a number of occasions to address the issues.

“To ensure stability and continuity of education I have ordered a full set of books for all the students.”

Students experienced problems such as tablets failing to switch on, tablets spontaneously going into sleep mode, devices looping while performing automatic repairs, system board failures and issues with wi-fi.

Principal Gleeson said it was “an informed decision” to choose the HP Elite tablet.

“A year and a half’s worth of research was put into choosing the right device for us.

“We wanted a device that was effectively a computer in tablet form for our students, so it would have a word processor, sufficient memory etc,” he continued.

“The memory of the HP device is 64GB, it far exceeds other tablets’ memory capacity.”

Regarding the students’ educational experience, principal Gleeson said it’s hard to judge.

“You can’t have an honest assessment when they weren’t working to their full capacity,” he said.

In a statement, HP said it was "working very closely with Mountrath Community School to resolve some technical issues and is committed to doing so in the shortest possible time frame."

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