Teachers and students across the nation are gaining more access to mobile devices in the classroom through technology grants and digital classroom initiatives. Another school that recently joined the digital learning wave was Hilliard Station and Tharp school in Columbus, Ohio, Hilliard Northwest News reported.
The school district handed out more than 1,200 iPad Minis to sixth-grade students, which is all a part of their one-to-one digital learning program. The project was created to provide devices to all of the 15,000 students in the district, but with each iPad Mini costing the schools $279, it's a huge investment that has to be completed in steps, the source explained.
Rich Boettner, chief technology officer for Hilliard City Schools, said the schools will provide the tablets, but the students have to pay $30 for the device's case, and they must give $1.50 per app used by the student, the source reported.
Teachers making the move toward digital
In California, fourth- and fifth-grade teacher Joanna Conrado recently received an award from the state deeming her the "e-Learning Educator of the Year," the Merced Sun Star reported. While Conrado has taught for more than 15 years, she now creates all new classroom exercises and activities based on the implementation of tablets in the classroom.
Her school district is currently in the third year of its computer program that no longer uses textbooks to get reading material. Even though some teachers might not be ready to make the move toward a digital classroom, Conrado said she fully embraces the technology change in the education industry and that it will be a great tool for the future, the source stated.
"I couldn't see going back to the way I used to teach," Conrado added, according to the source.
Another California teacher, Jessica Zambrano, explained that with digital technology, students don't have to just read about events, but the class can pull up specific things on YouTube or Skype, ABC affiliate KEYT reported.
Devices for all ages
Conrado explained that the school district implements personal devices in stages throughout the students' experience, starting with Kindergarten students using Samsung tablets, first and second graders with Windows Netbooks and third through eighth grade working on Chromebooks.
The veteran teacher said today's students are much more tech-savvy than any generation before and that most students can figure out how to use a device and learn its functions immediately. However, with older generations, it can take awhile for some to get used to all the features of a personal device.
"They (students) become educators themselves, and the teacher becomes more of the facilitator," said Conrado.
Personalizing student devices
Another challenge with school districts is whether or not to allow students to take the devices home. With the possibility of theft, damage or a lost computer device, the school could lose thousands of dollars per year and be forced to replace tablets and laptops.
However, investing in personal insurance would help protect student devices no matter what the situation, which could allow kids to take them home. According to the Hilliard Northwest News, Boettner said the school wants the students to feel like the devices are their own. The students can download permissible apps to the device, but the school is able to monitor each app a student downloads to ensure it's appropriate.
"We want students to learn responsible uses in this digital world," said Boettner, according to the source. "We want our parents to review the devices, too. Know the passwords and what your children are doing."
While the administrators cannot remove apps, they can make the tablet unusable until the student deletes the app themselves. Essentially, the school is trying to get students to be knowledgeable about their actions and having to bring a device to school each day is as important as remembering your textbooks.