The school district this week launched a pilot program giving 53 students at Sherwood Middle School new iPad tablets for learning in the classroom and at home.
School officials said if the pilot program is successful, they hope to equip every student in the district from Grades 5 through 12 with tablet computers within five years.
Assistant Superintendent Mary Beth Banios last night presented the School Committee with an overview of the program. She emphasized that it is not about the iPad device itself, but the opportunities and access to learning that technology offers. She said that through the pilot program, she hopes to inform everybody about the long-term benefits of offering such technology in the classroom.
Under the pilot program, the students’ iPad tablets connect to the Internet and other educational tools via Wi-Fi access.
The school’s network is equipped with filtering devices to restrict Internet content at school, but parents are encouraged to set up their own content-filtering on their home networks. The device’s remote camera is disabled to protect student privacy. The school has insured the devices against theft, loss or accidental damage, but parents participating in the program must sign a contract regarding use and care and are responsible for any damage due to negligence. The iPads must be returned to the school at the end of the school year.
Last night, School Committee members heard from two Maine high school students who took part in similar programs. Hannah Proctor, a senior at Yarmouth High School, talked to the School Committee via Skype — the remote video-conferencing system available on iPads — and said she has developed a nonprofit organization with the state of Maine to put high school students in touch with their peers in Iraq.