New Trier to expand use of iPads
The new Apple iPad delivers a sharper picture and is only a bit thicker and heavier than the iPad2. | AP
Updated: May 21, 2012 8:25AM
New Trier Township High School will expand the use of iPads next school year, increasing the total available for students and staff to 735.
Six hundred of those will be put in the students’ hands, available for use 24 hours a day. Sixty will be kept on carts that can be moved from classroom to classroom. The remaining 75 iPads will be loaned to teachers in pilot programs or used for teacher development.
That’s a substantial increase from this school year, when 165 district-owned iPads were used by students and teachers, including 55 students in anatomy/physiology who were allowed to take the iPads home with them during second semester.
In an iPad-created presentation to the New Trier School Board Monday evening, teachers of a variety of classes from modern and classical languages to social studies spoke enthusiastically about what iPads can do, that textbooks and computers cannot. Students, too, described how they used their iPads for note-taking, research and studying and praised its portability.
“I use it for three classes during the day and then when I’m home I keep it open and near me, until I go to bed,” one student said.
Administrators solicited proposals from teachers for how they would like to use iPads to enrich their curriculum. The technology planning committee reviewed the 35 proposals and selected 15 on a trial basis. Students in those classes will need iPads. They have three options for obtaining them. They can use their own devices and the district will provide the necessary software.
Families can purchase an iPad through the district at 75 percent of the total cost, including software, a keyboard and a case.
Or students can use a district-owned iPad, which they will keep for their sole use while they are in one of the pilot classes. At the end of the course or the school year, the student will return the device to the district.
Students who choose to use a district-owned iPad will have to pay a $60 non-refundable usage/insurance fee. If the iPad breaks or is lost, the student must pay 25 percent of the replacement cost of the device.
The budget for the iPad program next year will be $375,000, money that will come capital funds that otherwise would be used to replace computers and for other technology, Director of Technology Chris Johnson said.
Johnson and Paul Sally, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, estimate students with iPads will save about $30 on the average annual cost of textbooks because they will be able to get material online and digitally. This estimated savings would be offset, however, by the $60 insurance fee for using district-owned iPads, “but they’ll get an iPad,” School Board member John Myefski said, “for $30. You can’t even get a case for that.”
Students who choose to use iPads they already own most likely will come out ahead.
Sally acknowledged the financial impact on families in not yet known.
“We don’t know what the cost and savings to families will be. We have to assess that,” Sally said.
If the iPads prove not to be beneficial, schools would shift their use to classes where they are useful, or offer to sell them to families, the staff or the community.
Newly elected School Board President Alan Dolinko said he approved of the gradual introduction of the iPads
“It’s important this remain a pilot and not an implementation,” Dolinko said. Technology can become “obsolete tomorrow.”
“If this doesn’t meet our expectations, we need a way to exit and that’s there (in this plan),” Dolinko said.