Although many schools have embraced tablets as useful learning tools, the Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose, California, recently completed the second year of a pilot program that aims to shift the entire school from pens, paper, chalk and blackboard to iPad-based learning. Since the 2010 school year, the school has been equipping 250 students in 14 classes with the poplar Apple gadgets, a plan so enthusiatically embraced by students and teachers, that the school is now planning to rent iPads for the entire 1,680 student body, starting next fall.
“What’s coming this fall is huge, and I think you’ll see it happening in every school across the country in the next five years,” Brosnan says. “It’s almost as if the iPad was the device we were all waiting for.”
Apple’s Vice President of Education John Couch explained that the students respond better to material presented an environment that mimics their technologically-rich world outside of school. It also helps that the tablet is lighter to carry around than a schoolbag worth of books, and is very easy to use.
“They want to express themselves in class through the same media-rich environment they observe around them outside of school. I see the iPad as a classroom without walls,” says Couch, adding that the tablet’s just the latest in a long line of Apple’s efforts on the education front. “We’ve built this ecosystem with a lot of content like iBooks that’s not just digital but truly transformational, with interactivity and other features that traditional textbooks don’t have.”
Although AMHS is the first Catholic school in the nation to go all-tech, as Apple continues its rollout of the iBooks app and the iBooksAuthor textbook publishing program, Couch hopes more schools will follow Archbishop’s lead.
Many are already taking tentative and not-so-tentative steps in this direction. Recently, the Marietta, Georgia School Board purchased 30 iPad 2 tablets. By waiting to purchase until the most recent iPad 3 model was announced, Marietta was even able to negotiate a discount on the purchase.
This lesson in budgeting was unfortunately lost on the Charlotte-Macklenburg School District when they implemented their own large iPad acquisition. After spending a part of their salary pool to fund the $10 million purchase, Hugh Hattabaugh, the Interim Superintendent of the district was forced to go hat-in-hand to the school board to ask for $27.5 million to cover the salary shortfall.