From Chalkboard to the Circuit Board: An Overview of iPad Deployment in Region 13

Author:  Jonathan Delgado -Education Specialist: Data & Accountability Systems

 You’ll likely spot it if you take a stroll in downtown Austin or through Main Street in Burnet: someone using a tablet or smartphone. Technology seems to have finally struck a meeting point of ease of use with a low price point. With that, it was only a matter of time before devices like Apple’s iPad found their way into the classroom. Across the nation, iPads are being utilized across all grade levels as an instrument for classroom instruction. This school year, many districts within Region 13 are deploying iPads for a number of purposes.  iPads allow students to work on projects, correspond with teachers, track their assignments, take notes, turn in homework, view grades, and in many cases, will serve as a replacement for huge and heavy textbooks. The days of students using chalk or a whiteboard, it seems, are slowly coming to an end.

Aside from its classroom function, iPads also serve as a simple way that the school district can communicate with their community. McDade and Flatonia ISDs have both developed an application that you can install on your iPhone or iPad that will display current school announcements, upcoming campus events, and list a directory of school and staff contact information. Hays CISD has a similar application and also supports the functionality of allowing parents to pay for students’ cafeteria balance. The iPad and iPhone are virtually always connected to the Internet, and parents and the communities have an always-on connection to their school district.

At the start of the 2012-13 school year, an estimated 10 school districts within Region 13 have some type of program to provide students with an iPad in a particular grade level or at a specific campus. The most ambitious of these programs is from Eanes ISD, which is piloting an iPad program at Westlake High School which allows every junior and senior to receive an iPad for instruction. The district has purchased about 1,700 iPads and hopes to keep the program well into the future. The following districts also have respective iPad programs:

  • Comal ISD – Recently approved the purchase of an iPad for district teachers with the eventual goal of having a tablet available for all middle and high school students.
  • Comfort ISD –During the September Board meeting, the district approved the purchase of iPads for every teacher to be used as an instructional tool.
  • Dripping Springs ISD – 4th grade students of Dripping Springs Elementary use an iPad for classroom learning and group projects.
  • Eanes ISD –Westlake High School students receive and use an iPad for instruction.
  • Gonzales ISD – Piloting a program for the use of iPads in the first grade.
  • Hays CISD – Received a $3,000 IBM Community Service Grant for the purchase of iPads for students.
  • Leander ISD – Has a BYOT (Bring Your Own Technology) program that allows students the use of an iPad, laptop, or smartphone from Kindergarten through 12th grade.
  • Manor ISD – All high school students will receive in iPad for instruction. Manor is also piloting iPad programs at the elementary and middle school level but not at a 1:1 ratio.
  • New Braunfels ISD – Incoming freshman have received an iPad and the entire Grade 9-12 population will receive the device next fall.
  • San Marcos CISD – Piloting a program at Travis Elementary where one of two devices are being used to support classroom instruction: iPad and Amazon’s Kindle. The district hopes to provide access to all students in the near future.

These school districts are in good company. In 2011, Apple, Inc. reported that approximately 400 school districts had begun to use the iPad to replace traditional tools like textbooks and paper gradebooks. Many administrators agree that devices like the iPad are not just about getting a “cool” device into the classroom but instead are about increasing student learning and thinking outside of the box.

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