Timeline is taking shape for bringing iPads into the classroomDaily life in local classrooms could look very different next year if the Farmington School District goes forward with what it describes as an ambitious plan to provide iPads for every student and teacher in the district.
By: Nathan Hansen, The Farmington Independent
Daily life in local classrooms could look very different next year if the Farmington School District goes forward with what it describes as an ambitious plan to provide iPads for every student and teacher in the district.
A committee formed to study the possibility of integrating iPads into classrooms called the popular tablets an opportunity to redefine the way students learn. The plan is not meant to give students a new way to read their textbooks, they said. It’s meant to give them a tool that will allow them to do things that were impossible before now.
Getting to that point will not be easy, if the district chooses to go ahead. Even committee members acknowledged the compressed nature of a timeline that calls for teachers to get iPads as much as six months before the start of next school year and for a few classrooms to take the plunge when classes start in September. Other classes would join them throughout the school year, with early adopters helping newcomers get a grasp on what is possible with the devices.
What committee members hope is possible, and what they say they have seen in other districts where iPads have been put into use, is a change in the approach to education. The iPads, they say, can open new doors for students and make it possible for teachers to tailor lessons to meet the needs of individuals.
Classrooms might not all hit that point immediately, but committee members say the change is coming. Modern students are surrounded by technology from iPads to iPhones to computers on a daily basis, and committee members argued that taking those tools away from them when they walk through the school doors does them a disservice.
“It’s very much part of who they are,” Boeckman Middle School assistant principal Dan Miller said Monday. “We have plenty of kids who, despite us, are attempting to use technology to improve their education.”
Board members were receptive but cautious as they discussed the plan Monday, asking questions about how the district will pay for the project — at retail prices it would cost nearly $3.2 million to buy an entry-level model of the newest iPad for each of the district’s roughly 6,400 students — at a time when the district is already making budget cuts. They also raised concerns about whether the proposed timeline was realistic.
Board member Tim Burke pointed out that getting iPads into teachers’ hands six months before students return to school next September means buying them right now.
“We’re trying to go from 0 to 100 in half a year,” board member Tim Burke said.
Superintendent Jay Haugen has said he wants any iPad purchase to be part of the district’s ongoing budget so the project can be maintained. He said in the long run the district will save thanks to reduced printing bills and cheaper textbooks.
Ultimately, committee members called the proposed timeline a work in progress. They said more detail on how the iPads would be implemented, how teachers would be trained to make the most of them and how the district would pay for them will come as the plan is fleshed out.