Rancho Minerva Middle School and Vista Innovation and Design Academy are among eight schools in the nation chosen to take part in an innovative program focusing on the greater use of mobile technology in education to enhance their studies in the classroom and at home.
In addition, teachers will receive specialized training on how to effectively leverage mobile technology into their lesson plans so they're able to maximize students' learning experience.
Under the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools (VILS) program 827 students and 40 teachers at Rancho Minerva Middle School and 645 students and 32 teachers at Vista Innovation and Design Academy (VIDA) will be given iPad tablets to use in the classroom and take home, donated by the nonprofit Digital Promise through a grant from the Verizon Foundation. The tablets will be equipped with two-year, 5-gigabyte Verizon Wireless data plans.
Unlike other initiatives that provide mobile devices to schools, the VILS program pairs the use of mobile devices for learning with specialized, ongoing professional learning for teachers on the best ways to use mobile technology in the classroom and turn them into educational tools. Schools in the VILS program supported by Digital Promise will also have a full-time, dedicated technology coach to facilitate educators' professional development.
"This is a great opportunity for students to learn at any time they choose," said Larry White, executive director of curriculum and instruction and education technology for the Vista Unified School District. "Each student will have access to learning all the time as they'll be able to work on class projects and do research at home."
As a precaution, White said, "there are security filters that provide safety so that students are not getting access to inappropriate sites."
Karen Cator, President and Chief Executive Officer of Digital Promise, said: "There is incredible potential, enthusiasm and passion for learning in Vista's middle schools. We are excited to help provide engaging learning opportunities for students and learn with and from teachers, administrators and parents."
The Verizon Innovative Learning Schools program was started in 2012 in partnership with the International Society for Technical Education.
The program has worked with 24 elementary, middle and high schools, 229 teachers and 11,500 students across the country.
In the 2014-15 school year the eight schools in the VILS program supported by Digital Promise will reach an additional 350 teachers and nearly 5,000 students.
Vista School Superintendent Devin Vodicka, said: "We, our students and the entire region are very grateful to the Verizon Foundation and Digital Promise for selecting our community to be involved in this project and for their support. This is another big step on our journey to being the model of innovation and educational excellence."
Best practices, teacher insights, stories and resources from the implementation of this program in Rancho Minerva Middle School and Vista Innovation and Design Academy and across the country will be continuously published online for teachers anywhere to access for free and apply in their own classrooms.
Students in schools that previously participated in the VILS program have made stronger gains in mathematics and science than students at comparison schools, according the International Society for Technical Education.
The expansion is part of Verizon's commitment to the Obama administration's ConnectEd initiative. The company has pledged up to $100 million in cash and in-kind contributions to the initiative over the next three years.