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St. Paul schools to have an iPad for every student
St. Paul Public Schools announced Friday, May 30, that all its students will soon have a personal Apple iPad to be used in and out of school as part of the district’s Personlaized Learning Plan.
Matt Mohs, chief academic officer for the district, said beginning in the fall of 2014, about half of the schools in the district will have iPads on-site, while the remainder will see the devices in classrooms for the 2015-2016 school year.
The district also announced they’re abandoning a plan to develop an online learning platform with Dell -- after a year of work on the platform, “both SPPS and Dell now agree that a customized platform will not serve SPPS students and teachers directly enough or quickly enough to continue investing in it,” a document from the district reads. The district has recovered money from the contract with Dell in the form of credit for Dell products.
Mohs noted that the district had been planning to introduce tablet devices into classrooms regardless of the outcome of the project with Dell.
“We were going to spend millions of dollars on devices anyways.”
The district will lease iPads from Apple -- the first year will cost an estimated $4 to 5 million, Mohs said, while a full-on implementation next year will mean an annual operating budget of between $7 and 8 million.
The digital tablet computing devices will be distributed at a number of East Side schools, he said, although the specific schools have yet to be identified.
Prior to the beginning of the school year, the district will offer introductory training where staff can pick up an iPad and learn the basics of the device, he said. There will be information technology staff at many of the schools who can field questions and help troubleshoot the devices, he added.
The devices will roll into classrooms in stages throughout the fall. To begin with, teachers will not be evaluated on how the devices are integrated into curriculum. Rather, the first year is somewhat of a trial period -- “We really see that in the first year this is about exploring and experimenting with the technology,” Mohs said.
To that effect, he added that iPads “won’t be expected to be used every day all of the time” by any means. “There’s still a lot of room for what goes on in the classrooms,” he said.
Learning software for the devices has not yet been identified.
Mohs said students will likely not be taking the devices home right off the bat, but ultimately, the idea is for the devices to go home with students.
“Our vision from the beginning has been this idea of learning anytime, anywhere, 24-7,” he said.
Joe Nathan, director of the Center for School Change, questioned the widespread implementation of the devices all at once. Instead, he suggested the district try the devices at a smaller scale, in order to get any potential kinks worked out.
Nathan has been watching the introduction of technology into schools for over 20 years.
“One of the things we know about technology is that there are always unanticipated consequences, sometimes postive, sometimes negative,” he said. “One machine after another has been touted as producing a revolution in American education.”
Contact Patrick Larkin at 651-748-7816 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @ESRPatrickLark.