iPads coming to Lakeville schools
Purchase is part of new technology initiative
by Aaron Vehling
Apple is expected to announce the iPad 3 at a major event on March 7, but Lakeville Public Schools could have its own iPad-centered announcement as well this week.
As part of the iLearn 194 technology initiative, the district plans to lease from Apple about 1,300 iPads for about $800,000.
The School Board will vote on the expenditure at a special meeting Tuesday, March 6.
Timing is essential, especially given Apple’s upcoming announcement, said Superintendent Lisa Snyder at a recent school board meeting.
If Apple announces an iPad 3 release, then the district could ostensibly save money on the liquidated iPad 2 models.
“As far as the difference between the iPad 2 and 3, I don’t see educational benefit of waiting for 3,” Snyder said.
The lease would be a three-year cycle, leaving room for upgrades when the current one expires.
Lakeville high-schoolers excited to delve into Angry Birds at home will be disappointed. Snyder said the district will initially require students to keep iPads at school. This is at least partially for insurance purposes.
The first lease payment is due July 1, which is when the district will receive $1.1 million in grant money from the state.
The board will then work on developing policies for home use over the summer.
The most significant component required to be in place for the iPads’ apps to effectively acclimate with curriculum is proper infrastructure, district officials said. This is centered on the expansion of the district’s anemic wireless network.
The plan calls for adding wireless access points throughout the district’s buildings by Aug. 1. There will be an initial rollout of access so the 60 teachers involved in the iLearn program have classrooms with Internet access. This project will cost about $560,000, according to the district.
“Wireless is one of the key pieces to get in place,” said assessment and accountability coordinator Jason Molesky. “Many apps and the devices themselves become fairly non-functional without access to Internet.”
The participating teachers are currently training to learn how to effectively use the devices in the classroom.
School Board Member Jim Skelly lauded the efforts to expand the wireless infrastructure.
“None of us in our jobs go to a computer center to do work,” he said. “Everyone is mobile. I don’t see why students shouldn’t be either; but you can’t do it without infrastructure.”
Aaron Vehling is at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.facebook.com/thisweeklive.