PEN and paper is making way for computers at St Mary’s College after they launched a new iLearn lab.

The Blackburn college has bought 20 iPads and has wifi access so pupils can bring their own devices in to use for lessons.

Classes have been using the new area and taking advantage of the technology to find innovative ways of using iPads to help improve their learning and find lessons more fun.

The area also includes eight PCs, a selection of laptops and handheld video cameras to enhance their learning.

It follows the move of some schools nationally which have started to phase out the use of writing materials in favour of computer learning. IT manager Paul Holmes said: “It’s smaller than an A4 folders, and can hold more information than everything in the college library.

“Five years ago teachers would be telling students to put away their mobiles and music players, and now we are encouraging them to take them out and teach us what they know.

“Roles are almost being reversed. We are being taught how to use them to the best of their ability by the students, and then we apply that use to lessons.

“We have done it because we have seen an increase in students bringing iPads into college. There’s so many apps out there which means we can allow the students to learn in an innovative way.

“We would like to expand the number of iPads over the next few years, and eventually we would like every students to have their own.”

Currently, staff are able to book the room for classes.

Since Christmas the college has seen the number of iPads on the school’s ‘moodle’ website and server increase to more than 100 because students received them as gifts.

The technology has been used in sports lessons. Students have filmed themselves and uploaded the footage to the app where they study technique.

Fashion students have used templates to design dresses and other items.

Mr Holmes said: “In the real world students will be expected to use technology like this and this initiative gives them the confidence to think outside the box.

“The college promotes handwriting skills as it is still a vital life skill, especially when applying for jobs. Some employees analyse handwriting as the first step in checking suitablility for a post and this is often done from the application form or a test.

“We have seen students using iPads alongside their pens and paper, making notes from web sources.”