Q: How will an iPad improve my child’s education?
A: School districts throughout Massachusetts are embracing technology, and in particular iPads in the classroom. These districts know that the iPad is a powerful tool for improving education. For example:
- Tablets help students learn more material faster. Technology-based instruction can reduce the time students take to reach a learning objective by 30-80%, according to the US Department of Education and studies by the National Training and Simulation Association.
- 81% of K-12 teachers believe that “tablets enrich classroom education.” The survey of technology in the classroom by the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) also concluded that 77% of teachers found technology to “increase student motivation to learn.”
- iPads help students better prepare for a world immersed in technology. Students that learn technology skills early in life will be better prepared to pursue relevant careers later in life. The fastest growing and highest paying jobs in the United States are technology intensive. Employment in “computer and information systems” is expected to grow by 18% between 2010-20, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- In 1984, Benjamin Bloom articulated the two sigma problem – that the average student taught through one-on-one tutoring outperformed 98 percent of students taught in a traditional classroom. 1:1 iPads make it possible to provide highly personalized, differentiated instruction to our students.
Q: How long will the Enhanced Learning Initiative last?
A: We plan to keep working to raise money for our six classrooms until we can meet our teacher’s needs.
Q: Which classrooms will receive iPads?
A: Teachers who are interested in participating in the Enhanced Learning Initiative have submitted grants to BEST. This fall, 13 teachers have come forward, asking for 1:1 iPads in their classrooms. We have prioritized the requests and will fund them on a rolling basis as we receive the funds through the Enhanced Learning Initiative, beginning with a full classroom grant to Mrs. Puglisi in Grade 2 and working to fund requests from Grade 6, Grade 4 and Grade 3 after that.
Q: What about the other classrooms and teachers that want iPads?
A: BEST is introducing the 1:1 Student-to-iPad model into five elementary school classrooms. A school-wide roll-out of iPads would ultimately need to be endorsed and sponsored by the School Committee.
Q: Don’t classrooms have computers now?
A: Each school building has a computer lab, which is used during the student’s Media specialist time (when students take lessons specifically related to the Massachusetts Technology Literacy Standards). There are also laptop carts, which are shared by many classrooms. Studies show that shared equipment is used very differently from equipment that is dedicated to an individual. To put it in perspective, how would your use of your smart phone change if you shared it every day with five other people and could not reliably have access to it when you need it.
Q: Why not just buy more laptop carts?
A: The Boxford Elementary school district would be responsible for purchasing more laptop carts for our classrooms. However, there are 13 teachers who are interested in pursuing a 1:1 technology model of education in our schools. BEST is asking for your help to support them. Studies show a significant improvement when there are devices dedicated to the classroom that the teacher can use throughout the day to enhance the curriculum. In fact, one study in Scotland showed that “Personal ‘ownership’ of the device is seen as the single most important factor for successful use of a [personal computing device]”.
Q: Why iPads? Why not other brands of tablets?
A: It’s not the iPad, per se, but rather the App Store that makes the iPads uniquely suited to education. Apple iPads dominate with 94% of the Education tablet market (source). There are over 40,000 Education apps in the Apple App Store (source) that are ready to use in classrooms, and Apple offers the iBooks publishing platform that many textbook companies are embracing. The other platforms cannot offer even a fraction of these tools. Consider it from the perspective of an App Developer – if you were making a new App for education, wouldn’t you begin by building it for the platform that is present in 94% of the education market?
Q: Why is it $20,000 per classroom for iPads?
A: Each classroom will receive iPads, cases to protect the iPads, App Store funds to purchase apps for the students, an AirServer app so that teachers and students can project from their iPads to the class SmartBoard, and a Bretford PowerSync Cart to charge, sync, and securely store the iPads. The total cost per classroom is approximately $20,000.
Q: What is a PowerSync Cart?
A: The PowerSync Cart for iPad allows you to store, charge, sync, protect, and transport up to 30 iPad devices at a time. Each classroom will have a PowerSync cart where the children will charge their iPads overnight and the teacher can install Apps and manage the iPads. A donation of $2,500 will buy one of these carts for one classroom.
Do you have a specific question about the Enhanced Learning Initiative and how 21st century teaching tools can benefit your child? Please send us an email and someone will be sure to get back to you. We will be collecting questions and answering them here on our web site and in presentations to come.