Ninety-seven 8th-grade students at Avery Middle School in California returned from summer break to the news that each of them would receive an iPad that interfaces with their entire school curriculum. Additionally two classroom sets were provided for 6th and 7th grades.
The iPad Program is the result of a collaborative effort under the leadership of AMS Principal Christine Linder, Vallecito Union School District (VUSD), Superintendent Dr. Rick Brewer, CBO Gretchen McReynolds and Director of Technology Michael Wells. In April the leadership team envisioned the concept of integrating cutting edge technology to enhance learning in the classroom. This vision became a reality after conducting a teacher pilot program over the summer, holding student and community meetings and receiving VUSD board support, says Brewer.
“After extensive evaluation of currently available technology, the iPad proved to be cost effective, and most applicable to meet the educational needs of our students,” he adds, pointing out that the technology offers the possibility of a one-to-one ratio — one student to one electronic device — that enables true technological innovation in education. “Furthermore, the iPad Program is in sync with the objectives in the District’s overall Technology and Strategic Plan.”
The VUSD ordered 170 iPads, displacing textbooks in favor of the Apple tablet. The plan is to extend and transform the traditional learning environment by integrating digital textbooks in handheld devices.
“By providing new, innovative ways for students to access course information, the iPad directly contributes to an effective learning experience — being able to instantly access visual and text information incorporating instructional technology in a fun, exploratory way,” Linder says.
“In addition, the iPad is a formidable platform and the applications greatly enhance the core content, while promoting active engaging learning that focuses on 21st century skills,” said Wells. “The handheld device enables educators to deliver a customized, real-time curriculum and personalized instruction tailored to meet their students’ needs.”
The new program at AMS aims to offer students and teachers greater flexibility in accessing course materials, even in rural areas, he adds. All students will be able to interact with the online and physical world in a more equitable and empowered manner — the goal being to provide every student at AMS with their own handheld device.
“And finally there’s the practicality factor. No more backpacks with heavy books straining children’s backs,” McReynolds says. “The lightweight iPad, only 1.5 pounds, is about a third of the weight of a typical laptop and additionally holds a ten hour video viewing battery charge.”
For more information on how to partner with or visit the Avery Middle School iPad Program, go to http://www.vsd.k12.ca.us .