Educators announced Tuesday that the district will now spend close to $11,000 on a set of 30 iPads with protective cases. They will be available to students when teachers are assigned time with them, for use during lessons, projects and other learning activities, according to Christine Austen, assistant principal and chair of the district's technology committee.
"It’s a very small-scale initiative, but it’s something that we’re exploring to perhaps expand after we assess the results of the students’ use and how the teachers feel they are being utilized in the classroom," Austen said. "It’s very exciting."
Students will be able to use applications that are pre-approved by educators; the teachers themselves will be able to submit requests for applications to be added, which will be evaluated by administrators. Austen said that teachers – many of whom already use personal iPads in their classrooms in connection with their smart boards – will also receive training in the program ahead of time.
The pilot program evolved out of a previous one that gave each sixth-grader in the middle school a laptop that traveled with them between school and home. In this new program, the iPads remain at school.
"That was on a much grander scale, and more
costly of course, when you're giving them the laptop," Austen said. "This one, with the iPad, has
a big difference. With the pilot we’re testing the waters rather than diving
into the pool."
Austen said the school district bought out the lease of those laptops, which meant that there was either money to acquire 68 more laptops or invest in the iPads.
She said she expects the technology committee to deliver another presentation during the academic year that will evaluate the success of the iPad program. Teachers will likely be asked to fill out surveys on each app they've used with their students. "Is it targeted to a skill or concept? Is the feedback specific and does it result in improved student performance?" Austen said.
"It’s always difficult to assess how is that technology affecting student performance," she said. "It’s not an easy thing to do all the time. But that is the goal, to find that data and use it in order to make a decision to continue or expand the program or not."