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  • Girard iPad trial run paves way for more

  • Girard’s school district is nearing the end of a test run to see what would happen if the district were to provide iPads for students.

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  • Girard’s school district is nearing the end of a test run to see what would happen if the district were to provide iPads for students.
    The results, according to science teacher Rob Massa, have been very positive and cleared the way for the district to expand its initiative to provide iPad Minis for each student from fifth grade on. Additionally, students in grades K-4 will be provided a cart of iPad Minis per grade.
    In all, the district will purchase 748 iPad Minis.
    Massa’s advanced chemistry class took part in the pilot project and each student was provided an iPad.
    “We knew there were going to be iPads in the class, but we didn’t know they were to take home,” said Austin Egbert, an advanced chemistry student.
    The students quickly learned to use the devices for other assignments, including reading “Frankenstein” for another class.
    Madison Smith, who also is an advanced chemistry student, said the iPads were helpful because students could look up unfamiliar words with a touch of the screen and easily access other helpful bits of information.
    Massa said he is able to send students assignments through a digital dropbox, and they use a closed social networking site where assignments can be discussed and students can communicate with teachers or others in their classes.
    A committee headed by Assistant Tech Director Rick Duling and Middle School Principal Randy Heatherly headed the pilot studies, visited other schools currently using iPads and did other research throughout the project.
    “From a technical standpoint we feel that the more tablets our district can place in students’ hands, the greater impact it will have on student learning,” Duling said. “By purchasing iPad Minis, we are able to include a greater number of students.”
    Heatherly said seeing this initiative through is one of the highlights of his career.
    “This iPad initiative may be the most exciting thing to come along in my 22 years as a principal,” he said. “I can’t wait for August to actually help with the deployment of student iPads.”
    There have been a few hurdles in the test run, such as finding the smoothest projection app for the classroom setup, but that is why the initiative started small, Massa said.
    “We wanted to do it in a couple classes,” Massa said. “We’ve ironed out some of those bumps so next year it’ll go a lot smoother.”
    Additionally, the test run allowed the less-expensive iPad minis to hit the market before the district made its purchase.
    “When we came down to it, it was going to be dramatically cheaper for us,” Massa said.
    The district will enter a three-year lease with Apple, which means students will not have a device that is more than three years old.
    Page 2 of 2 - Superintendent Blaise Bauer said the district will work with all the local banks on the lease-purchase agreement, but that the purchase price represents a reallocation of funds that would have been spent on district technology upgrades, such as computer and laptop purchases, for the sake of reaching students where they are.
    “They live in a different world than we did,” Bauer said, adding that digital textbooks may also be an option for students in the upper grades.
    Upon graduation, students then likely will have the option to purchase their iPad Minis at a prorated price.
    “Although this 1-to-1 initiative continues to demand a lot of work and preparation, the anticipated change in instruction and student learning will make it worth it in the long run,” Heatherly said. “Our students are so excited to have the opportunity next year to have their own iPad to work on at school while having the option to take them home each night. Our staff is very excited to embrace the integration of technology into their teaching to provide our students with better 21st-century learning skills.”

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