More schools are planning and implementing policies to use iPads and tablets in the classroom, and according to Jessica Farrish of The Register-Herald, Raleigh County Schools will be the first in the state of West Virginia to equip students with iPads.
Beginning this school year, every student in grades 2-12 will be given an iPad 2. In Kindergarten and first-grade, students will share an iPad Mini with one other student. All iPads will remain the property of Raleigh County Schools.
The Raleigh County students "will be the first generation of students in the county and among the first group in the nation to join the global trend of learning on iPads."
"We're thrilled to death to get started," Superintendent Jim Brown said. "We truly believe it will change the face of our classrooms. Every day, we learn of a new tool we'll be able to access using an iPad in the classroom. It's really limitless." Superintendent Brown spearheaded the movement to iPad learning last August, following a meeting with an Apple representative at a superintendent's conference in Charleston.
Raleigh County's teachers received training this summer from Apple's educators on how to utilize the iPad for more effective teaching and learning. Teachers have undergone extensive Vanguard Training, which has prepared them to assist colleagues and to lead students in electronic-based learning initiatives. The teachers will have access to a new, fully-staffed iLab that will allow them to continue developing iPad teaching techniques.
Board of Education President Rick Snuffer said that while some parents and teachers may have "apprehension" about the move toward iPad learning, kids are "native learners" on iPads and have expressed excitement. "Children today have never known anything but technology, so we have to look at new ways to engage them in the educational process," he said. "They become more excited in the educational process through (iPad use).
As more school districts in the U.S. move toward digital learning, schools are selecting iPads as a cost-effective, well-supported tool for students that come pre-loaded with useful learning applications.
According to Brown, the iPads offer students more challenges and additional learning opportunities that are not available with traditional textbooks.
Raleigh County is following in the steps of other districts such as the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), which recently announced plans to buy and distribute iPads to 640,000 students in the nation's second-largest school district by late 2014.
The school district has launched a new $30 million program to give free iPads to 31,000 students this school year. The first phase of the project is currently underway in 49 of the district's 1,124 K-12 schools. Each student will receive an iPad pre-loaded with educational applications.
The first phase of the project will be completed before beginning of the new school year in August.