A New Era of Learning

Editor's Note: This article is the first in a series of three exploring how students, parents and teachers in each district are adjusting to the brave new world of classrooms with mobile digital devices such as iPads.

Students at West Prairie High School this year are taking a swipe at new way of learning.

Last week, each student was given an Apple iPad tablet computer they will keep with them throughout the school day and take home in the afternoon. The move is the result of the school district's three-year technology plan, which was approved by the West Prairie Board of Education earlier this year and included the implementation of a one-to-one iPad program.

Scott Sullivan, the school district's technology director, said while the school district will continue to use traditional textbooks along with the iPads this year, students might be carrying fewer books the next.

"I think our days of adopting paper textbooks are over," he said. "Going forward as the textbook publishers create more and more content and more textbooks, our adoption process will include those digital copies."

The touch-screen iPad tablet computers, which are wireless and come with WiFi Internet capability, allow students to read a digital texts, complete an interactive assignment, and teachers have the capability to download content directly on to each of their students' devices.

The school's teachers and students had been gradually introduced to the devices since last year, when the school district purchased iPads for each instructor and agriculture teacher Corinne Galvan's classroom.

"We had our first training for teachers in May, and then over the summer we offered some more iPad training with the Apple professional development curriculum," Sullivan said, "and our teachers came in and spent two days with an Apple trainer. It's actually been continuing."

He said teachers' training included work the iBook, an Apple program that allows teachers to create their own interactive textbooks, which can also be put on the students' devices.

Pros and cons

On the day students received their iPads, Sullivan enlisted a group of seniors who received prior training to help others set up email accounts and navigate the device's features.

One of those seniors, Rana Gooden, 17, is taking a few college classes. She said thinks having access to a portable device with Internet capability will help her those courses.

"It will make my college classes a lot easier too because a lot of the college stuff is online, strictly," she said.

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Tags: education, ipad, west prairie high school

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