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An iPad for every student?

Published 10:55pm Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Students at Charles Henderson High School may find themselves turning to iPads instead of traditional textbooks if a new technology initiative is passed.

The Troy City Schools Board of Education this week discussed the benefits of providing iPads to all students in grades nine through 12 as part of a one-to-one technology initiative. The program, recommended by the leadership team and proposed to board members during Monday’s work session, would put the district on the cutting edge of technology and, ultimately, could save money.

“Right now, when we replace math textbooks this year, we’re looking at spending about $80,000 on the books,” said Superintendent Lee Hicks. “If we move to the iPads (for textbooks), we’ve been assured the most an electronic version of the textbook will ever cost is $14.95.” Normally, printed textbooks can cost as much as $200 per student, Hicks said.

“And the math textbooks are the least expensive ones for us to replace,” he said. “The next year, we’ll be adopting new language arts and literature textbooks – that means three books. …

“That’s where you’ll really start to see the savings.”

Under the proposal, the district would lease 650 iPads from Apple for approximately $112,955 per year. At the end of the lease term, the district would have the option of purchasing the iPads for $1, returning them or entering into a new lease for new technology. The iPads would be assigned to each student in the high school, all teachers and administrators. Students would use the iPads for their math textbooks and be encouraged to use the technology for interacting with teachers, researching assignments, supplemental learning and even test taking. Hicks said the move to digital technology is one that acknowledges the digital-native nature of today’s students. “It’s hard for us from a different generation to understand, but if you give them a pen and paper, they’re going to balk a bit,” he said. “But if you give them an iPad? They’re going to go to it.”

Other school districts have taken similar steps. Both Huntsville and Baldwin County have assigned tablets or iPads to students. Many other districts have assigned individual laptop computers to students.

Under the local plan, each iPad would be marked with a serial number and assigned for the year to an individual student, who will be allowed to take the iPad home at night and on weekends. The district will install software for classwork, textbooks and security purposes. “They’ll have the same web browsers we have at school, so they can’t go to unapproved sites,” Hicks said.

In addition to leasing, Hicks said Apple will provide teacher training and development.

“The key to this will be in professional development,” Hicks said. “We’ll spend the time working with teachers so they know how to utilize them.”

In other business during the work session, the board members discussed efforts to reestablish an after-school program at Troy Elementary School.

Hicks said the administrative team plans to offer supervised after-school care until 5:30 p.m. each day for a nominal fee. “We’re going to allow parents to enroll a child for $35 per week, with a nine-week commitment,” Hicks said. “It’s not just going to be recreation time. We’re going to have instructors on-hand to provide help with homework and tutoring and the students will have access to the technology and resources of the school.”

Pre-K through second-graders will be grouped at the ECC building and the third- through fifth-graders will be grouped at Troy Elementary School.

Dr. Judson Edwards, president of the board, said he was pleased with the revival of the program. “When we started our policy that allowed people coming from outside the district to enroll their students, I worried about people who were working at (Troy University) or CGI,” he said. “They needed some place for their kids to go until they got off work … And not just someplace where they go for recreation.

“Imagine if the parents can pick them up and the kids already have their homework done?”

Hicks said the program should begin in the fall.

  1. inmyopinion

    Wow – really? Those are really two or three super initiative points in this article (Ipads, saving $, aftercare, & tutoring). Way to go Troy City Schools!!!! My daddy use to say “Your either getting better or getting worse” and it seems like Troy City Schools are GETTING BETTER. #impressed

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  2. knowwhatimean

    This is great! Many schools around Alabama have already immplemented the provision of ipads to students, even in their elementary and middle schools. One report this week highlighting a school just north of Montgomery County that has made a decision to issue ipads to every student in the school, and though it is a smaller school, the administration feels that the benefit to the students is worth the effort/cost. The long term benefit will be felt by our community when these children graduate on the same technological level as other students entering either college or the workforce around them. Way to go!

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  3. Omelas

    Do they really expect teachers still stuck in the “overhead projector” era to make good use of this technology? He!!, sunshine is two weeks old before it’s allowed into Troy.

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  4. WDM

    Omelas have you ever heard the old saying “If you can’t say something nice don’t say anything at all”.
    For someone who doesn’t live in Troy you sure have alot to say.

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  5. Observer

    It is my understanding that in order to use school computers students are required to sign terms of use agreement which allows the school to censor sites and content available to students. The school is required by law to provide students with textbooks and cannot predicate providing a textbook on the student (and or parents) agreeing to such censorship.
    The condition, :”They’ll have the same web browsers we have at school, so they can’t go to unapproved sites,” Hicks said.” asserts that the school can extend its censorship without any consent.

    If a student (or parents) refuse the terms of use policy will the school purchase hard copies of the textbook for that student or will the school simply ignore the consent issue and give the student a computer which is not censored?

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  6. honeybadger

    Wow what a waste! What is an Ipad good for besides reading and watching movies? I have tried three times to post to this article with an Ipad and it never would post. I had to get my laptop to post. I don’t understand what is the big deal with Ipad’s? Who wants to set there a peck on the screen to type a paper. What a waste in my opinion. Get laptops that can be used and utilized.

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  7. WDM

    omelas,anyone that has read the post on this forum for the past few years can tell you have posted using different user names.Everyone is entitled to their opinion but you always have a negative one about everything.You may can change the name you use but the way you see things are the same.

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  8. oldteach

    Forgive me for a typo. No not a grad from anywhere around here. Yes I speak for several, we find your continuous unhappiness with all things Troy humorous, because your grips on this forum accomplish nothing.

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