Columbia Public Schools to introduce more iPad Minis for students

Friday, May 17, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CDT; updated 12:40 p.m. CDT, Friday, May 17, 2013

COLUMBIA — Thanks to a pilot program starting at Rock Bridge and Hickman high schools, even more Columbia Public School students will have iPad Minis in addition to textbooks come fall. 

The district announced this week that high school students taking Advanced Placement courses at Hickman and Rock Bridge will receive iPad Minis. About 1,400 iPads Minis will be purchased for these students, district technology committee spokeswoman Julie Nichols said.

Columbia Public Schools is basing the number of iPads on the number of course requests for AP classes, district technology services director Chris Diggs said. If the final number is 1,400, it will cost $460,000, which will be provided through district operating funds.

This program is separate from the one starting at Battle High School next year, where about 1,100 iPad Minis will be provided to students.

"With Battle doing a one-to-one technology initiative, Rock Bridge and Hickman decided to do a personal learning initiative," Nichols said. "All students enrolled in an AP course will be issued an iPad Mini for education and personal use."

A device advisory group made up of teachers and administrators determined which kind of device to purchase for the Battle pilot, Nichols said. The iPad Mini was chosen based on its versatility and photo and video capabilities, she said.

"Students can use digital images they take for projects, conduct Web conferences or check out a keyboard for word processing," she said. "Apple is in the lead over Android with educational apps, and since most district teachers already have iPads, this was the obvious choice."

For the 2011 to 2012 school year, the district provided 520 ninth- through 12th-grade teachers with iPad 2s, Diggs said. This past school year, 950 pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade teachers received iPad Minis.

Those devices were funded through the operating funds from the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 school years, Diggs said. The cost for the 520 iPad 2s was $238,160 and for the 950 iPad Minis was $293,550.

Valerie Harre, Ridgeway Elementary School media specialist, said she incorporates iPad technology in all levels of teaching.

"I was working with some of our youngest children to learn about teeth," Harre said. "The kids were able to shoot video reciting facts about teeth and put it into a presentation. Technology is our future, and it's part of our job to help students effectively use it."

Nichols said input from students and teachers participating in the pilots at the high schools will help the district determine where to go from there. She also said they are encouraging students to bring their own devices and take advantage of the schools' wireless capabilities.

"This will be a time of learning for all of us," Nichols said. "I think in the future, all students here will have a personal learning device. And it keeps going younger and younger."

Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey.  

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