Isle of Wight introducing iPads to middle schools

Feb. 15–ISLE OF WIGHT — Despite a looming 5 percent cut in local funding, Isle of Wight Public Schools is working to expand its iPad initiative to the middle schools.

Over the next month, 21 teachers from Windsor and Smithfield middle schools will be equipped with iPads as a pilot program, said Rashard Wright, director of secondary schools, at Thursday’s Isle of Wight School Board meeting. Plans call for the remainder of middle school teachers — approximately 80 — to get the digital devices by next fall, he said.

School Superintendent Katrise Perera said she wants middle school students to have more access to iPads next year, although it probably won’t be on the scale of the high schools’ initiative. Approximately 2,000 leased iPads were distributed to all students at Windsor and Smithfield high schools in January, at a cost of $466,000 annually for three years.

Mobile iPad stations are a more likely scenario at the middle schools, Perera said.

There was no discussion of budget implications. Perera is scheduled to present her proposed 2014 budget to the Isle of Wight School Board during a special meeting at 3 p.m. March 1 at the Isle of Wight Courthouse.

The division is not rushing into digital textbooks, said Lynn Briggs, the division’s director of instructional technology and virtual learning. Most teachers are using a combination of digital instructional resources that include websites, apps, teacher-generated electronic notebooks, videos and digital textbooks, she said.

“Smartbooks are gradually replacing digital textbooks,” Briggs said. “Instead of copying notes, teachers create iBooks that students can pull up on their iPads.”

There will be increased iPad training opportunities for teachers this summer, Briggs said.

In other business, the School Board is looking toward a less traditional revenue source: leasing space to wireless telephone carriers via a third-party partner, Milestone Communications.

The Daily Press

(c)2013 the Daily Press (Newport News, Va.)

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