Can you describe the roll out of iPads at the High School and the associated benefits?
As part of the Innovative Teaching Project, and beginning with the class of 2017, each high school student will receive an iPad, which will be available for use on and off campus. The Innovative Teaching Project is a larger campaign being launched this summer by the Foundation for Belmont Education to support both the practices and tools needed to increase innovative instructional models in the Belmont Public Schools. The iPads will be funded through the Fund for Innovative Teaching Tools (FITT), one component of the overall campaign.
Utilizing iPads at Belmont High School will enable each student and faculty member to expand teaching and learning opportunities with the use of iPads’ universally available curriculum materials and electronic textbooks. Students will be inquisitive, open-minded learners who use technology in a balanced and responsible manner along the way to becoming discerning and self-directed.
iPads will be used to differentiate instruction through flexible grouping or deliver a lesson through whole group instruction. The iPad is used to enhance instruction throughout the content areas while at the same time to transform the classroom from a teacher-driven instructional model to a student-driven one.
Why a one-to-one program?
Providing students with iPads in a one-to-one model creates opportunities to improve students’ 21st century skills for problem solving, critical thinking, collaboration, data gathering and analysis, oral and written communication, and technological competence, among others. These are difficult skills to master. With our current levels of technology, we are limited in how many times per year we can fully expose students to the skills and work to develop mastery. The one-to-one model provides students with greatly increased opportunities to practice and provides teachers with multiple opportunities over the course of the year to assess student growth. Specifically, we anticipate students will become more engaged and capable in research, creative projects, argumentation, demonstrations, summaries, and other artifacts that grant evidence of the growth of knowledge and skills.
By increasing the frequency with which students practice selecting academically reliable sources, annotate and analyze those sources, synthesize the information from multiple sources, and then create an argument, teachers will be able to chart student progress and differentiate instruction in order to support struggling learners and to increase the level of mastery for all students.
Several options for the use of electronic devices were reviewed. Ultimately, we chose the iPad2 because of these features:
• We were looking for a tablet (as opposed to a laptop or laptop replacement).
• We wanted the ability to choose between using a touch screen or keyboard.
• We were interested in a device which could run textbooks and applications natively without a connection to the internet.
• We wanted to have access to thousands of education-related applications.
• We desired an operating system and compatible hardware produced by the same company for integration and reliability.
• We sought an interface which is already familiar to most students and staff who also own iPods or iPhones.
• We needed devices that can run 10 hours without charging.
• We wanted a device that is lightweight and boots up quickly.
• The product had to be supported by a company with extensive experience in the education market.
• The provider would be a significant developer and offer a user support community.
• The provider needed to demonstrate an installed base in thousands of K-12 schools, including many in our immediate area.
• The system had to offer accessibility features natively, including text-to-speech, and accept assistive technology devices.
• The system needed to be supported by hundreds of vendors who produce hardware specifically for the iPad, including microscopes, probes and other science equipment, musical instruments, midi devices, and recording equipment for music.
• The device needed to have a rear-facing camera for content capture.
• The system had to be easily integrated into our existing SMARTBoard, remote access, and Edline technologies.
• The device needed to have an ability to produce multimedia content.
How is the program funded?
The program is funded by a generous grant from the Foundation for Belmont Education, the Belmont Public Schools operating budget, and by additional private grants.
Are there any cost savings?
Although cost reduction is not the primary goal of this program, it is anticipated cost savings will be achieved by reduced printing and copier costs, fewer PC and printer purchases, fewer Windows and Office license renewals, and a reduction in network storage space.
Why are iPads not being provided to students in grades 10-12 this year?
Based on data from the BHS 2012-13 iPad pilot program, we feel it is best to start with incoming freshmen and to then gradually increase the number of iPads annually. One advantage of deploying iPads over multiple years is to keep costs down through a manageable and deliberative approach.
Note: This is only a sample of available program information. See the full text at: www.belmont.k12.ma.us/innovation