Students in Madison, Wisconsin will soon get access to iPads to use in classrooms, thanks to money that the school district received from a state-negotiated settlement with Microsoft.
Microsoft was forced to pay the state nearly 80 million dollars in order to settle claims that the software giant had cheated consumers into overpaying for software purchases. Under the terms of the agreement, Microsoft has issued vouchers to state schools, with $3.4 million being earmarked for Madison.
The school district will use the money to purchase 600 iPads for $479 each, for use in schools this spring. There are plans to purchase another 800 iPads on top of that for use in classrooms by next fall, which will be a great learning tool for students.
With the classroom iPads, students will be able to wirelessly share classroom work with one another, and replace workbooks and textbooks with apps from the Apple App Store. Madison will not be the only county implementing the iPads, and other counties in the state have begun to experiment with the tablets too.
“This is the most significant transition point for having digital learning at the optimal level,” said Bill Smojver, the district’s director of technical services. iPads are cheaper and more portable than traditional desktop computers, and according to a recent demonstration in Chicago Public Schools, students are more engaged in classrooms using tablets.
While the district is considering replacing traditional textbooks with iPad versions following Apple’s recent iBooks 2 announcement, it will produced cautiously with the decision. iPads will be used in a variety of ways. One school, receiving 105 iPads will give each student in four classrooms access to a tablet, while another school will be using them for teacher planning and record keeping.
Pending school board approval, the iPads will debut in 20 elementary schools, 10 middle schools, and three high schools by mid-March of 2012.