NEW MARKET — A vision that began six years ago will come to fruition at the start of the 2014-15 school year in the South Montgomery School Corporation when every student will have access to an iPad.
The school is investing nearly $1 million in the 1-to-1 Initiative. The goal is to have one electronic device for every student and teacher. Next year Apple’s iPad technology will replace all textbooks except reading.
South’s out-going director of technology, Blake Zachary, has been instrumental in keeping South Montgomery schools up-to-date on technology. Recently, members of the school board agreed to purchase software and equipment to enhance wireless infrastructure for wireless access at all South district schools.
School officials are reporting three key points for the iPad program.
First, teachers will have the opportunity to create their own curriculum with the apps available for iPads. Many of the apps are free.
Secondly, the school corporation will take measures to insure protection of each device against damages. The school was able to purchase protective cases to help keep the iPads in good working order. However, Zachary said in his research he has found schools already with iPads are not experiencing a lot of damage to the devices.
“In our research of schools that have similar iPad programs we found that less than 10 percent of the devices had been broken or were destroyed,” Zachary said.
Thirdly, the school will use a program entitled “Digital Citizenship.” The course will teach all students the right and wrong way to use technology in school and at home.
“Digital Citizenship will lay the groundwork for learning the proper use of technology in the classroom and in the student’s workplace in the future,” South Montgomery Assistant Superintendent Eric Brewer said.
Funding for the iPad project will come from text book rental fees. Parents should not see an increase in rental fees and could possible see the fee decrease.
“The average textbook fee is $120 with some classes costing close to $145,” Brewer said. “We are anticipating the fee to be $100 with an additional $20 fee for repairs and replacement if approved by the school board.”
Helping to cover the expense is a grant that was awarded to South Montgomery schools by the Indiana Department of Education’s office of Learning.
Last year South’s fifth- and ninth-grade students each were presented with laptop computers. Brewer said the laptop program has been a good test run for the corporation.
“We are very happy with the way students took care of their machines,” Brewer said. “Kids treasure cellphones and generally take good care of all of their electronics. They treated their laptops as well as they treat their cellphones.”
Since the iPads will be rented, ownership will be retained by the school corporation. All devices will be turned into the school for the summer and the iPads will be cleaned and re-programmed for the next school year.