Last year Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop High School in south central Minnesota bought iPads for all of their students. This meant 375 new tablets that meant to be used as companions to the learning process.
Moving into their second year, in which students are expected to return with their iPads, the school feels the experiment was a success.
The school’s strategy was to educate their teachers in addition to their students so that the tablets could be fully utilized. They wanted to make the tablets into something more than just a technological toy, which meant blocking YouTube and helping students to focus.
One side effect the school hadn’t anticipated was the need to manage expectations felt by the students. They became so used to communicating with teachers using the devices that they figured e-mails at any time of the day or night be answered in short order. Rules had to be put in place to ensure that teachers weren’t constantly at the beck and call of their students in the evenings and on weekends.
But counter that with the ability to watch videos that reinforce teaching points and the incredible research skills these children will be learning and it would seem these iPads are well worth the cost.
The remarkable thing is that in total, 13 iPads were dropped or crushed and 9 were misplaced or stolen. Fortunately, the mandatory insurance policies carried by the students meant they were all replaced.
Other schools have employed iPads to support their curriculum, while others still have used them as as true reference libraries. Either way, this is about more than just replacing paper textbooks with virtual versions.
Do you think our children should be using iPads at school? What do you think the pros and cons may be to using devices like this in a school setting? Do you think replacing items like graphing calculators and textbooks with apps on the iPad are reasonable reasons to justify the cost of the device?
[via American Public Media]