District 74 students introduced to new school supply — an iPad
Updated: October 3, 2011 12:54PM
Lincoln Hall sixth-graders ripped open the wrappings of their new iPads with the excitement usually reserved for birthday presents.
The students ran their fingers ever-so-lightly over the iPads’ faces, as if making sure they were real. Only then, did they even try to turn them on. And once they did, all kinds of magic was at hand.
The 11- and 12-year-olds, as well as their parents, were attending a session Aug. 9 set up by School District 74 administrators to introduce the youngsters to a program involving one of the 21 Century’s latest tools.
And the district is one of only a few across the entire country to be taking on the iPad with a one-to-one initiative, said Linda Klobucher, Lincoln Hall Middle School’s new principal.
“This initiative is kind of mind-blowing ... Technology today is everything, and students are going to be learning this side-by-side with the teachers in the school and the adults in the community,” Klobucher said.
“American education needs to change. We are very excited about being cutting edge and seeing what kind of environment we can create,” she added.
Superintendent Mark Klaisner noted that their first thoughts were to teach only a group of 20 how to use the iPads, before including the rest of the class.
But Klobucher wouldn’t have it. She said the time that would take was too precious to waste.
“By the time the students graduate from high school, they will be looking at jobs and professions that don’t even exist now — and we don’t know what those jobs will be,” Klaisner said.
“We want to equip our students with the tools to be successful and flexible. Seven to 11 years from now, depending on whether or not the students go to college, they are going to find the world very different. So school has to be different,” he added.
Part of that will be demonstrated by the initiative, because parents, teachers, students and the district’s IT people will be learning how to work with the iPad at the same time — without the benefits of a pilot group who might have been able to work out any kinks.
The iPads, which are the property of the district, retail at $500 each and up. Parents paid $100 to cover insurance and the cost of between 30 to 40 apps that students will download during the year.
But after that it is up to the students to care for the iPads, make sure they are charged daily, and to follow the district’s rules for their use.
The district filters the iPads when they are used at school, but parents must supervise their use when the iPads are not, said Mary Jane Warden, the district’s director of technology.
The iPads require a wireless connection, so those families that don’t have wi-fi at home can use the tools at the library, Warden said.
With the iPads, students will be able to email their teachers with questions about homework, collaborate on projects together under supervision, and “sail unchartered waters” with the iPads as their navigation equipment, she added.
“We want to accomplish ‘anytime/anywhere’ learning,” Warden said.
But Facebook, YouTube and similar sites are banned. And students who don’t follow the rules could lose use of the iPads.
However, those who handle them carefully and use them as they were meant to be used could get to keep them after they graduate, Klobucher said.
“I love it! It’s so cool and so awesome to have! I’m hoping that I have it to use the rest of my life,” said Muhammad Fayaz Khan, 11.
“I really like how it’s (face) is large, but it’s thin and not heavy,” he added.
Asia Khan, Muhammad’s mother, noted that both he and his brother, Azan, 6, have been using computers since they were 3 or 4 years old.
“I like that the school is doing this. This can only help them,” she added.
Sabrina Vulic, also 11, said the iPad program is “a smart idea,” because it will teach the students more about technology.
Senada, Sabrina’s mother, added that the program will “put the world at the students’ fingertips.”