For four fifth grade classes at the Jackson Avenue School, the phrase "no more pencils, no more books," took on a whole new meaning Tuesday morning. With about 80 students gathered in the school cafeteria, Mineola school Superintendent Dr. Michael Nagler announced a new initiative that will provide each of them with an Apple iPad for the duration of the school year.
"This is an experiment," he said. "It is to see if this is a new way of teaching and of learning. You are going to be a part of something that hasn't been done before." The district has purchased about 100 of the devices which connect to the internet wirelessly. The approximate retail price for each iPad is around $500.
According to Nagler, California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger launched a "ripple effect across the country" with his Free Digital Textbook Initiative, where schools are able to cost-effectively incorporate technology into academia. Nagler feels his iPad initiative will aid a "new generation of students," helping them learn the skills necessary for their futures. Jackson Avenue School principal Matthew Gaven believed that Mineola is the first school district to have an iPad program on such a large scale.
Teachers have reportedly been working all summer to find appropriate educational applications for the students to use on the iPad. "I needed the best teachers in the district to do this," Nagler said. "This won't work unless this group of people makes it work."
Anxious students raised their hands to ask questions of their new devices, such as what they should do if they find an educational application at home that they would like to share with the class and what monitors would be in place.
The iPads will have the same filter as the school computers but Nagler puts his faith in the fifth grade. "I trust you," he said, addressing the students.
Gaven advised students to communicate with their teachers. "We want this to be a partnership," he said. "We want you to be the judges of the things that we are trying. The most important thing is that you use this for learning."
Although students will not receive their iPads for about another two weeks - leaving time for parent conferences - some students were able to try out a few applications.
One fifth grader, Chloe, thinks the best part about the iPad is its convenience. "Now you don't have to carry a lot of textbooks; it's all in your iPad."
Another student, Michael, said he believes he can learn a lot from the iPad although this will be his first time using one. "I'm most excited about the math and science games," he said.
Gaven stated that an Apple engineer would be available to give the district technical support when needed.