COLUMBIA — In addition to an armful of textbooks, every Battle High School student is set to have an iPad Mini in hand when the school officially opens in the fall.
Battle is piloting a new technology initiative for Columbia Public Schools, which plans to provide an iPad Mini to every student for technology purposes, district spokeswoman Michelle Baumstark said. The initiative was approved by administrators April 17.
"This is the natural progression of how technology will be integrated in the classroom," Baumstark said. "We want it to be used as a tool, but it doesn't replace teacher instruction."
The iPads will be purchased with funds set aside in the operating budget; specifically for additional Battle projects, Baumstark said.
"We'll see how it works at Battle, and we'll make decisions on how to move forward," Baumstark said.
About 1,065 students are enrolled at Battle, and the school plans to purchase just under 1,100 iPads, said Battle High School Principal Kim Presko.
"We know our kids are digital natives that have grown up with technology at their fingertips," Presko said. "Our goal is to help them use technology as an instructional tool."
Like a textbook, students will check out an iPad at the beginning of the school year and return it before the summer, Presko said. Many of their textbooks will be online, and students will have the option at the library to check out books in print or digital copies.
"By piloting the initiative, we're hoping to figure out the policies and procedures that will make this successful," Presko said. "The district has a plan for technology and this is one of the pieces. Someone had to take the first step, and we're lucky it's us."
The decision to approve the pilot came a little more than a week after the Columbia School Board voted in favor of a technology policy that will allow students to use electronics in the classroom for instructional purposes.
Last year and this year, district teachers were provided with iPads to learn the technology, Baumstark said.
Future Battle high school juniors took student tours of the facilities in mid-April. The school has Wi-Fi, Presko said, and it is exciting to give them a glimpse of what their experience with technology will look like.
"Instead of leaving the classroom where the teacher has all the technology, we're putting technology in each student's hand," Presko said. "That's what the world is. Take me, right now I have my iPad and computer pulled up at the same time. Everything is about technology now."