D-26 considering more iPad purchases

CARY – District 26 plans to increase the amount of iPads students and teachers will have access to at school.

School district officials are proposing to purchase 300 iPads when the new fiscal year begins on July 1. The district plans to have 200 of the iPads designated for teachers and administrators, and 100 for student use.

A vote by the school board on the $225,000 purchase is scheduled for Monday.

When combined with current devices in the district, there will be about 280 iPads available for student use, either by checking them out from a school library or via classroom carts that teachers can check out.

iPads were first brought into the district in January.

In a survey of elementary teachers in the district conducted in November, 75 percent who responded said they would be willing to give up the replacement of two classroom computers in return for an iPad.

Having their own iPads allows teachers to learn and understand the technology they're teaching their students, said Instructional Technology Coordinator Jennifer Fisher.

As a curriculum tool, there are apps that can enrich lessons, Fisher said. The iPad allows students to move around the room and interact with students, document student behavior, have digital teacher's editions for books, shoot pictures and videos, and engage in interactive class activities, among other things, Fisher said.

The district plans to make the purchase during the summer so the iPads would be available for student use at the beginning of next school year, Fisher said.

District 26 also is requiring teachers to go through iPad training and provide sample lesson plans that include use of the iPads.

"We feel as the demand for these continues to grow, the more we can get dispersed for multiple classrooms to use the better for the students," said Andrew Fitzsimons, the district's technology coordinator.

So far, more than 100 teachers have been trained on how to use the devices, and the iPad carts have been used in classrooms more than 200 times.

"That is a huge voluntary jump that staff is wanting to integrate this technology into classrooms," Fisher said.

Some schools are limiting the amount of times teachers can use the iPads to one time a week or an hour a week because of the demand, Fisher said.

Adding more sets will allows students to do more hands-on work with devices, Fisher said.

Board member Scott Coffey said he wanted to see if the district could buy even more. He asked district administrators asked to see if there could be more money allocated toward purchasing more iPads.

Only buying 100 iPads for student use is a drop in the bucket to meet the demand in the district, he said.

"The quantity that's being recommended, I don't think is sufficient to meet the demands of the district and its students," Coffey said.

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