COLUMBUS — At the beginning of the school year the USD 493 board of education and Columbus Unified High School took another step into the 21st century when they issued about 170 Apple iPad tablets to CUHS juniors and seniors.

Nearing the middle of the first semester with the devices, the students and instructors are still getting used to the tablets, but are finding them useful.

“They’re great for homework and stuff,” said senior Cody Spainhower who uses his mostly for English and Government class. His government class is online though Labette Community College and he watches his lectures on the iPad.

He said it makes it easier to do homework.

“I do a lot more of it, it’s easier,” he said. “I can just sit down in my room and type on it, I don’t have to pick up a pencil It makes everything technologically easier.”

Fellow senior Justin Garrison agreed.

“It’s useful because you don’t have to use the computers all the time the iPad is like of like the new frontier,” he said, adding he uses it not just to do homework, but to study as well.

“Pages (an app) works for a lot of things,” he said. “You can easily make flash cards if you need to. You can carry English papers with you and work on them anytime you want.”

Principal Tony Shearburn said there are still a few teething problems with the iPads but overall he’s happy with what’s going on.

“The students are learning new ways of doing things,” Shearburn said. “They seem to be a good thing.

“We’re still in that phase where we have some instructors using them a lot and some still figuring out how to integrate them.”

He said the devices are being used for everything from writing entire essays to doing filmed presentations for class that a year ago would have been done live.

“As we have them longer the more useful they will be,” he said, adding they have not installed a great many textbooks on the devices yet, but expect to as more publishers realize school districts are demanding it.

“Once we get them in enough student’s hands, we’ll look at it,” Shearburn said. “We’re always looking for ways to save money and hopefully this will be one of those ways.”