An Apple a day . . .but no books for pupils

Alan O'Keeffe

New pupils at one Dublin school will never use a textbook.

In an experiment that could signal the end of heavy schoolbags, a select group of first students have been handed iPads.

The devices will contain all the textbooks they will need for the next five years.

The boys and girls who arrived for their first day of secondary school at St Kevin's College in Crumlin are among the country's first high-tech students.

"The iPads are incredibly attractive for students who will have a distinct advantage getting jobs," said principal Blake Hodkinson (39).

"The iPads bring their subjects to life. Instead of a photograph of Adolph Hitler in a textbook, they can watch him giving a speech at Nuremberg and hear 100,000 people cheering," said the principal.

"They'll be able to watch volcanoes explode and earthquakes happen. Their textbooks on the iPads will be updated every two weeks."

Mr Hodkinson said St Kevin's College has been fully wired for wifi and has been "ahead of the curve" on using information technology.

He believes the college is the first Dublin school in the DEIS scheme for schools serving social and economically disadvantaged areas to scrap textbooks in favour of iPads.

Thestudents will use the iPads throughout their five years to the Leaving Cert without ever having to buy a textbook.

The pupils pay €150 which covers the use of the iPads and other materials for the year. They will be allowed to keep the iPads when they complete their Leaving Cert.

The 50 new iPads cost in the region of €23,000 and a new server was installed to cope with an additional 100 machines.