Why iPads ?
As a textbook replacement:
The iPad is a great reading platform. Textbook publishers are all moving to compete in the digital realm. With careful evaluation, we will be working to migrate texts from paper to digital in the coming years. Digital texts can stay up-to-date, and be interactive, engaging our students.
Although there are many e-readers on the market, such as the Kindle from Amazon, the iPad is our choice for several reasons. The iPad supports eBooks from multiple sources (including Amazon), which allows for teachers to seek the best textbook rather than the best textbook from one company. In addition, several eBooks that will be used next year are actually web-based textbooks that require students (and teachers) to log in to a website to access the book. This is possible with the iPad, but not with standard e-readers.
Many of our texts, primarily in the History department, are created in house, tailored to the specific course. Taking these digital will save thousands of dollars in copying costs, reduce our carbon footprint, eliminate the expense associated with replacing lost documents, and provide always-available instruction material.
Digital texts can be annotated by keyboard, hand or even voice, and annotations can even be shared with classmates.
Reducing the textbook weight load of our students backpacks is a big deal! At a pound and a half, an iPad can replace tens of pounds of books and a laptop that adds additional weight to essential school materials.
As a mobile computing device:
Ubiquitous computing allows all students to learn on a level playing field and teachers to create lessons knowing that all students have a consistent set of tools.
The iPad comes with a web browser, email client, and calendar built-in. We will be installing word processing, presentation, reading and spreadsheet apps in addition to a selection of general academic, and department specific, apps.
The 10-hour battery means that the iPad can easily make it through the school day.
The iPad is less expensive, lighter, and in many instances faster than a laptop. They awaken from standby instantaneously. Removing some of the obstacles that technology has introduced into the classroom will allow teachers and students to concentrate on what they are there for - education.
When laid flat on a desktop the iPad helps facilitate an open teaching and learning environment, as opposed to the raised screens of laptops.
The wide variety of apps enables students to tailor their iPad to their own specific learning needs, including both text-to-voice and voice-to-text tools, flashcard tools and more. All students can use the iPad calendar and other tools to better manage their time.
The Apple App Store is already filled with many fantastic (and some not so fantastic) apps, after only 9 months since the iPad was released. We anticipate more great apps, many of which will be catering specifically to high school education. We'll be evaluating many apps and installing those that we feel will be most beneficial for our students. We're also investigating building some apps in-house and using the possibility of app creation as a learning opportunity for students.
Integrating iPads into students’ lives:
Between now and the summer of 2011, several teams of Drew teachers and administrators will be developing ways to use the iPad to complete the regular tasks that students are expected to perform. When students arrive for orientation for the 2011-12 school year, they will receive instruction about different ways to accomplish their work, recognizing that students take different paths to the same destination. Students will not be required to use the iPad for all work, if they find that it isn’t the right tool for some work; laptops and pen and paper will still be options! As noted in the FAQ, however, many teachers will be opting to use only digital editions of texts, and all students in those classes will be expected to use them as well.