First phase will bring iPads to nearly 2,000 studentsMore than 1,700 Farmington students will have access to iPads for at least part of the day when school starts in September, a wave early adopters administrators hope will pave the way for a districtwide distribution of the tablet computers by the end of the school year.
By: Nathan Hansen, The Farmington Independent
More than 1,700 Farmington students will have access to iPads for at least part of the day when school starts in September, a wave early adopters administrators hope will pave the way for a districtwide distribution of the tablet computers by the end of the school year.
The Farmington School Board approved a lease Monday for 1,730 iPads that will go students in the fall.
The district had applications from 190 teachers interested in being part of the early-adopter phase, and superintendent Jay Haugen told board members Monday that the projects that were approved covered a wide range of uses – from full-grade distribution in some schools to use in small groups and in specialist classes like art and music.
Each of the district’s schools will receive at least some iPads.
At Boeckman Middle School, eight teachers will receive 180 iPads in September, but because of the way they are distributed Haugen said more than half of the school’s students will have an iPad in their hands at one time or another. At Farmington High School, students will use the iPads for chemistry, math, English and foreign languages, among other things.
The district will pay $767,044.90 for a three-year lease of the iPads, eight MacBook Pro computers teachers can use to author lessons for the tablets, cases and vouchers for software.
The idea behind the early-adopter program is to explore how the iPads can be most effectively used in the classroom, but also to test the district’s network infrastructure to make sure it can handle the influx of new Internet-connected devices. If things run smoothly, the district would put an iPad in the hands of every student before the school year is over. Early-adopting teachers have also agreed to work with others who are not in the first wave to help them make the transition to teaching with iPads.
Board members approved the lease Monday despite some concerns about the timing of the process. Board members raised concerns that the district does not have policies in place yet to address what happens if, for example, a student breaks the iPad he or she is given.
“I am completely excited about this, but I also know this is a huge investment and I want to see it go very well,” board member Julie Singewald said. “I don’t want to hold people back, but I don’t want to do it wrong.”
Board member Brian Treakle also said he has heard from residents who wonder if they will be responsible for broken iPads.
Singewald suggested delaying a decision on the lease until there is a chance to get more information to residents, but Haugen said because of the amount of work necessary to get the iPads set up, waiting too long – the board’s next scheduled meeting isn’t until Aug. 13 – could make it difficult to get the tablets to students by the start of the school year.
Haugen said some of those concerns will be lessened in the early stages of the rollout because students will not take the iPads home. If an iPad is broken in school, he said, it will be handled the same as a broken desktop computer.
Haugen said the district has already identified policies that will need attention because of the iPad initiative. Those include policies on acceptable use, consent for publishing student work, bring-your-own device rules and technology agreements.
“We have all those things on the radar,” Haugen said. “We’re working on these things, but we don’t need a decision.”