Apple's iPad enters Singapore classrooms

SINGAPORE Fri Jan 14, 2011 4:11am EST

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SINGAPORE (Reuters) - If Oprah can do it, so can schools in Singapore.

Four schools in the wealthy city-state have begun handing out Apple iPads to students, relieving them of the need to carry satchels full of bulging text books and notes.

Nanyang Girls High School has spent S$135,000 (about $100,000) to buy 150 iPads for 140 students and 10 teachers in a pilot project. Users connect to the Internet using the tablet, and download books and course material.

They can take notes on the iPad, and use worksheets.

"It's much more convenient," said 14-year-old Chloe Chen, sitting in a classroom with her iPad in front of her. "Teachers can just tell us to go a website, and we can immediately go and do our work."

Last year billionaire talk show host Oprah Winfrey gave staff at her magazine an iPad and a check for $10,000 each.

Seah Hui Yong, dean of admissions at Nanyang Girls school, said the iPad was chosen because it complemented a new method of teaching under which students are given more freedom to learn themselves, instead of relying solely on the teacher in traditional classrooms.

"It's not so much about the iPad," she said, adding that if some other better device comes along, the school could switch.

"If you talk to the girls you will realize that they practically don't need training. I think if anything, the joke is the teachers are probably taking a little bit longer time in getting used to it."

Safeguards are being put in place as well.

"There will be some concerns - making sure that the girls are going to appropriate websites, also making sure that the girls don't get addicted to the device and use it too much," said Physics and Information Technology teacher Mark Shone.

Nanyang Girls is a secondary school, which means the youngest students are 12. Other schools in Singapore using the tablet include Tampines Secondary School, Nanhua Primary School and Dunman Secondary School.

(Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

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