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Curriculum Update

For One Conn. District: Textbooks Out, iPads In

Glastonbury (Conn.) Public Schools is the latest district to roll out a plan to provide iPads to its 2,200 high school students—and it is only the first step to significantly reduce textbook costs and focus on providing a 21st-century learning environment for its students.

“Right now we’re targeting a 25 percent reduction each year in our expenditures of textbooks until we get to a point where, hopefully, we can eliminate all textbooks,” says Brian Czapla, Glastonbury’s director of educational technology. “We do think it’s a possibility and we’re confident we can achieve that in three to four years.”

During initial research to replace the district’s one high school’s technology, Czapla says that a survey taken last year found that 73 percent of their high school teachers stated that non-textbook resources, like the internet, self-created resources, and digital subscriptions, were their primary resources in the classroom, compared to just 27 percent of teachers who stated textbooks were. The 27 percent, Czapla says, is still a significant number, but those teachers also stated they do not always use the textbook cover to cover.

“After 18 months of research, we came to the conclusion that to really provide the best learning environment for our students today and tomorrow was through a 1-to-1 tablet initiative and we settled on Apple’s iPad,” Czapla says. “The Board of Education approved the plan unanimously.”

The program will start at the beginning of the 2013-2014 academic year for freshmen and sophomores, while more than 100 teachers were provided with iPads this school year to train with. “It was well received by all groups,” says Superintendent Alan Bookman.

“However, there have been an incredible number of questions. We published a frequently asked question sheet, and continue to answer questions on the website. Meanwhile, we have given all professional development time this year to our high school teachers to collect and develop resources to be used next year.”

According to the Glastonbury Public Schools website, bringing iPads to the high school will cost $419,000 the first year and $210,000 for each subsequent year. Eliminating textbooks would eventually save the district $100,000.