iPads for EACS

By Rachel Martin

March 27, 2012 Updated Mar 27, 2012 at 11:35 PM EDT

NEW HAVEN, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) – By next school year, teachers and students in the East Allen County Schools district will have technology at their finger tips.

By Fall 2012, teachers and students should expect to have iPads in addition to all their other school supplies.

EACS Board Members say it's part of their "Blended Learning" initiative, which enables students to be more engaged with learning and 21st century skills.

In a work session Tuesday night, the board was deciding between Mac Air Books or iPads. They chose iPads because they felt students would work better with them since they’re similar to the technology used in smart phones.

“There seems to be a convergence going on of movement to iPad and iOS. The iOS system clicks with students with smart phones, and I think it’s their device,” said William Deihl, EACS Technology Director. “I think my generation is probably more of a laptop, but students are moving very briskly to iOS and mobile devices.”

Deihl presented statistics to the Board from a study done by the Pearson Foundation. It stated that high school seniors and college students prefer using tablet and iPads over traditional means. Six out of 10 students learn better using tablets, and eight out of 10 say learning is more fun that way.

The iPads costs anywhere from $415 to $615, compared to a Mac Air Book at $1,050. The iPad also boasts more flexibility and options including a longer battery life and being more mobile.

Purchasing iPads for the district would cost an estimated $1.3M a year over the next three years. The district would also have to hire technology coaches and programmers to repair the iPads. The Board will have a meeting April 10, where they will also take public input, to decide exactly how to pay for the iPads. Part will be paid through textbook and technology fees, and the other options would be using the extra $980,000 available from the Capital Projects Fund, or borrowing through general obligation bonds, loans, and technology grants.

That night, the Board will also decide whether the iPads will be implemented to all grade levels at once, or phased-in over time beginning with 9th-12th grades.

EACS administrators say the iPads will not take the place of textbooks yet, but that’s what they’re preparing for. Administrators say the State is heading in the direction of eliminating textbooks all together. Other schools in the area, like Garrett, have already done that. Concordia Lutheran High School in Fort Wayne just implemented iPads into their curriculum as well.

The Board plans to order iPads for teachers as soon as possible for training, but no other action will be taken until it’s approved April 17.

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