High tech school tool
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Students have information literally at their fingertips with the use of iPads at Milton Middle School. Teachers say the technology allows students to be more engaged learners. Terry Mayer photo.
MILTON -- When it comes to teaching today’s students 21st century skills, it requires 21st century tools. That’s why school districts such as Milton and Edgerton have launched initiatives to put electronic devices in the hands of their students.
At Milton Middle School, each of the 505 seventh- and eighth-grade students were given their own Apple iPad 2 on the third day of school in September.
“The iPads are a teaching piece and the goal is to have this be just like the (student’s) pencil and paper,” said Milton Middle School Principal Tim Schigur. “It’s a different way of accessing information and a different way for students to demonstrate their learning.”
The Milton School District purchased iPad 2s for its seventh-graders during the 2011-’12 academic year at a cost of about $150,000. This academic year, the district invested another $125,000 to purchase devices for this year’s seventh-graders. The students are allowed to take the devices home daily during the school year.
“There’s a real advantage when the device goes home,” said John Holt, Milton School District technology director. “When the device goes home, the student becomes a better user and the device time extends into the evening and becomes (the students’) pencil and paper.”
Schigur said transferred dollars from existing curriculum and technology budgets covered the expense of purchasing the devices.
“We haven’t seen any savings yet, but we will,” Schigur said, adding that many of the school’s textbooks, some priced as high as $500 each, would no longer have to be purchased. “Many teachers are earmarking some of their classroom budgets for apps to assist in their teaching.”
Each iPad 2 is customized for the student with his or her own iTunes account.
“Because we allow them to customize them … it’s not just a textbook, it’s not just a school supply,” Schigur said. “This becomes their pencil and paper; it’s just the way they learn.”