School Officials Recommend 1-to-1 iPad Program for Grade 6

Program is already implemented in Grades 7, 8 and 12.

Needham middle schoolers work with iPads. Credit: Needham Public Schools website.
Needham middle schoolers work with iPads. Credit: Needham Public Schools website.

A proposal to widen the 1-to-1 iPad program in Needham schools was announced last week.

Superintendent of Schools Dan Gutekanst said the 1-to-1 Personalized Learning Committee recommended that the iPad initiative, which is already running in Grades 7, 8 and 12, expand to Grade 6 next September.

“We believe the iPad 1-to-1 program will strengthen student learning; increase student organization and confidence; and ensure personalized learning experiences become routine rather than random and occasional—for struggling students and for students requiring more challenging curriculum,” said Gutekanst.

The plan asks parents to purchase or lease an iPad for their student(s), with a limited amount of “loaner” iPads for those who cannot purchase or lease a device.

Gutekanst said last week that it is “critical to have at least 85 percent participation” in the program.

The school department will support the initiative on infrastructure, personnel and professional development levels, said the superintendent.

Several other communities already use iPads, or will use them in the fall, including Weston, Shrewsbury, Burlington, Wellesley, Millis and Bedford.

To learn more about the 1-to-1 personalized learning initiative, read the report here.

Catherine Kurkjian February 12, 2014 at 09:24 AM
Although I agree that an iPad program can be beneficial for learning; for some reason, I find the above photo of students glued to their iPads at school rather troublesome. Considering the amount of time already devoted to their electronic devices, I would rather see students engaged with a motivating teacher who can capture their attention in a more personal manner. The 85% involvement is also of concern; in that, the alienation of the 15% who are not involved could set these students up for a very derogatory experience. Having to use a loaned iPad because your parents can't provide one is not a situation that a student should have to deal with at school. I realize that these issues are not of concern to most because most will be able to buy an iPad for their child (total cost, $755) but let us think about those who can't. Also, the three options; Out Right Purchase, Lease to Own, and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) allow personalization of an iPad. Loaner devices do not; creating a further divide between the haves and have nots. Given that the school budget will have to absorb the cost of loaner iPads anyway, has any consideration been given to purchasing them in a manner that will enable the distribution of iPads to all students; thus, achieving 100% participation? Parents who can not afford the cost could submit a confidential request for a waiver. Parents who are providing funds to the district to procure devices could still choose from the available options. This plan would enable our 11 year olds to focus their attention on learning rather than on one's economic status or in the ability/inability to personalize one's iPad. I also question how an iPad will help struggling students with organization problems. It seems that students who failed to write down assignments in a notebook will encounter the same problem (especially in the hands of teachers whose desire to punish with poor and failing grades takes precedence over their desire for a student to learn) if the assignments are not entered into their iPad. Unless the iPad program provides another means for students to access homework assignments, students will continue to suffer the consequences of zeros for missing assignments, resulting in poor and failing grades, credit loss, low self esteem, and a jeopardized future. The added burden of "keeping track of their iPad" is also a concern, especially in regard to the risk of it being stolen. I am reminded of when my son's clothes were stolen while in PE; hence, question if there will be added safeguards for iPads in such situations.


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