The program has more to do with raising test scores than going green. Educators hope a 1-to-1 ratio of iPads to students in the pilot program will increase both TCAP results and overall student growth. Students will not incur the costs of the iPads or educational applications.
“The idea came from going to conferences and seeing systems doing this program with success. We thought it would be a good idea to start it with our school system on a small scale,” said Andrew Phillips, technology coordinator for Cleveland City Schools.
One success story has occurred in Lexington, S.C., for School District One. Gilbert High School received iPads in 2010 as a pilot program. All high schools and middle schools will be under the program this year.
According to its website, “... Students will acquire the digital competence they need for our increasingly electronic- and technology-driven world. They will learn the essential skills they will need as consumers, citizens and workers.”
Roughly 25 students will be chosen from Blythe-Bower Elementary School, Cleveland Middle School, and Cleveland High School. Teachers will use online curriculum and educational game applications to educate these students. All quizzes, homeworks, or lessons will be conducted through the iPad.
“We are hoping giving students a device with Internet access 24/7 will provide them with the opportunity to look up schoolwork and do homework, wherever they are,” Phillips said.
Phillips said Notify MDM (mobile device management) will allow teachers and the tech department to monitor the iPads. Notify allows educators to view downloaded apps and filter Internet access. Policies guard against inappropriate material like explicit music.
Teachers will use Moodle, a Web-based educational portal, to allow students curriculum access at all times. Parents can view the class’ progress and studies through Edmodo. This is a “secure social-learning network” for teachers, parents, and students.
“I am a little anxious to see how parents will receive the program. The program is small because this is a pilot,” Phillips said. “Hopefully, if the program is a success, then the number of students involved will increase.”
These fifth-grade, sixth-grade, and ninth-grade students will spend the year together. Eleven teachers have been trained in total from the three schools. Phillips said whether or not electives for ninth graders will be incorporated into the program is unclear.
“This program is also for the teachers,” Phillips said. “It is to get them involved in using technology. The ones selected have been very eager to participate. They are looking forward to trying these new things.”
Phillips said the program is a pilot. He has stressed this fact to teachers. They are not expecting everyone to use the iPad to its full scholastic potential from day one. Much experimenting and working will go into this next year.
Jeff Elliot, former CMS principal, Autumn O’Bryan, CHS principal, and Kylie Kyser, Blythe Bower principal, worked closely with Phillips on the program. The principals were instrumental in choosing teachers for the job. All three schools will be responsible for choosing the students in the program.
“There will be a meeting with the chosen students and their parents to go over the expectations and what we hope to accomplish. They will sign an agreement saying they understand the terms of the program,” Phillips said.
The agreements include paying for broken iPads in the case of malicious intent. Phillips said a warranty covers all iPads for accidental damage like cracked screens. Each iPad will have the “Find My iPad” feature turned on.
Phillips will present a report to the city school board in December. A final report will be made after TCAP scores are received next summer. Phillips is hoping for a notable increase in student academic growth.