Hodges' AP Human Geo pilots paperless class

Two sections of AP Human Geography are piloting a paperless class with iPads.
Two sections of AP Human Geography are piloting a paperless class with iPads.

By Maddie Conway
Executive News Editor
When freshman Colette Moos comes into her AP Human Geography class, instead of taking out a traditional pen and paper for her class work, Moos uses an iPad to take notes.
Moos is one student involved in a new pilot program with social science teacher Erik Hodges’ two sections of AP Human Geography. The two periods are being taught as paperless classes using iPads to test how technology could replace paper in class.
“[The iPad] is a learning aid,” Hodges said. “We’re going to try to see if it’s a replacement or not; that’s kind of the idea. ‘Can this replace books and paper,’ basically. ‘Are we ready to go paperless, or is this technology not where it needs to be yet?'”
In addition to students using their iPads for notes and classwork, they will also be used for homework with assignments being downloadable on the District 214 Moodle website and turned in via e-mail.
The students involved in the iPad pilot are also trying the district’s new e-mail system; Hodges’ AP Human Geography students have district-assigned e-mail addresses from which to turn in their assignments.
The only paper that the class will use throughout the school year will be during free-response tests, as it is to prepare them for the AP Human Geography exam in May, for which students will have to write on paper. The students in the pilot will even take their multiple choice tests through the Moodle site.
After receiving approval for the pilot and a grant from the district, there were two meetings held during the summer for incoming AP Human Geography students and their parents. Students interested in the pilot had to attend one of the meetings to be considered for the pilot. Those students who were already scheduled to be in one of Hodges’ classes automatically became part of the pilot, and other names were pulled at random for the remaining spots in the class.
Moos became interested in the pilot after receiving the letter that was sent home to incoming AP Human Geography students at the end of last year, which explained the upcoming pilot. She attended the meeting to learn more and decided to be considered to learn more about the technology.
Hodges’ classes began using the iPads in class on Monday, August 30.
So far, Moos said that although typing notes in the iPad still feels somewhat “foreign” to her after years of taking notes on paper, she has noticed some positives with the technology, including that all of her school documents are located in one organized place and that she cannot lose her notes. She also said that the iPad’s different applications give students more options in terms of there being different ways to accomplish a simple task like setting up a calendar.
Overall, Moos said that because the pilot is still in its first week, there is more to learn about the iPads and the pilot program. Hodges, who got his iPad last week, also said that there is more to learn, as is the program’s purpose.
“There’s a learning curve with the kids, with me,” Hodges said. “We’re learning with the kids.”
“I thought that it would be interesting to have the opportunity to use technology in class in a different way than I was used to,” Moos said. “I mean, I’d never used an iPad, and most of the technology use in my education thus far had been at home, typing papers on my desktop as a final draft kind of thing, and a lot of technology nowadays is more on-the-go, integrated with non-digital life, which is interesting, and I’d like to learn more about that use.”