In an article I read recently it said a private Tennessee school will require all students grades 4 through 12 to use iPads next year. They believe the program will pay for itself within three years. The school is a private school and will give students and their families an option for how they would like to participate in the program.
One of the primary motivators for the school to use iPads is to transition to digital textbooks. They believe digital textbooks are easier to use, lighter to carry, and cheaper for families. The other interest in getting digital text books that they are more interactive and can be updated to contain more current information. The school believes digital textbooks are more engaging than paper.
The school is still working out issues such as the initial cost for the 1,000 iPads it plans to purchase as well as getting teachers to plan the transition away from paper textbooks.
“There are a handful of teachers who are still struggling with the idea of electronic books. It’s certainly a personal preference,” the school’s technology director said. “Even people who prefer a (conventional) book see the advantages of an electronic version.”
Students will have the option of buying their own iPad or leasing the iPad from the school on a three year lease (at which time they will own it). From the school’s perspective the cost of an iPad can be compared to the cost of several text books. An example text book for advanced psychology sells for $130 and weighs 10 pounds. The online version is updated regularly and costs $50.
“We fully expect, not immediately, but over time, the savings they have will make it a wash at least as far as cost,” the school said.
One of the advantages of going to a device like the iPad is there is almost no learning curve for students. Today’s students are “digital natives,” and teachers can learn from them, their 62-year-old superintendent noted.
“I think the future will be where the actual wall is a computer,” he said.
Many school districts will continue to play the conservative wait and see card. But for this one school they are committed to moving ahead with the iPad and getting students using them as soon as possible.