This is the third year that every elementary school student in Westside Community Schools has an iPad to use during school hours. The district has a four-year contract with Apple which means they'll soon decide whether to keep the current plan.
Dr. Paul Lindgren is the district's director of technology and Dr. Matt Lee is a technology integrationist. They say they have been pleased with the current technology, and are constantly working to assess and evaluate how it helps students and teachers in the classroom.
"It's in our DNA that we're going to roll this out, and we're going to make sure we use it appropriately, and we're going to make sure we use it responsibly. But it is an incredibly powerful tool that we can equip students and teachers with," Dr. Lee said.
He says they've found 80-90% of students say technology helps them focus on their learning. About 90% of teachers believe it helps them as educators.
Dr. Lindgren says the district isn't concerned with getting the newest and best technology, but the tools that help students learn. In other words, technology is just one component to teaching, "we're perfectly happy to have kids playing with LEGOs, getting in the mud, doing those types of things. So in our district we really want to strike a balance."
"I look back at some of the research that's coming out from the American Academy of Pediatrics, and they've had the quote that said in a world that "screen time" is increasingly becoming "time" we need to learn how to better use it,"
A committee of teachers will continue to assess the best plan for the district once their contract is up after next year. But again, students, teachers and administrators have been pleased with the program.
Middle and high school students at Westside receive lap tops to use for the year. Unlike, the elementary students, they are allowed to take their devices home.