Jaffrey-Rindge School District

More students get iPad access next year

Streamlining, scheduling technology use will allow resources to spread farther

JAFFREY — The district will be changing up the way it uses some of its current technology, Director of Curriculum and Instruction Ryan Earley informed the School Board on Tuesday night.

Currently, the district has been working with the district’s 330 iPads to allow 1:1 integration of the technology — one iPad for every student — in grades 7, 8, and 9. Earley told the board that this is the model the district had been using for several years, but in the coming school year, he’d like to see a different model that would put more focus on specific uses of the devices, as well as allow other grades to have greater access to them.

“A 1:1 program does not give the best bang for the device,” Earley told the board.

Instead, Early would like to see the district collect all 330 iPads, clean them up, clear them of their data, and place them in the control of the IT department to allow for better control of inventory, condition, battery life and what applications are being loaded. Teachers who had a specific purpose for the iPads would sign out classroom sets of iPads, and the IT department would deliver a set of charged, app loaded and clean iPad for the requested duration.

Earley said the advantages of this would include extending the life of the devices by between two and three years, help to keep the iPads on school property, and eliminate unnecessary usage of the iPads by students that had them. It would also allow grades that currently don’t have any use of the iPads to have access to them. Some teachers only use the iPads one day a week, or for a solid week for a specific unit, said Earley, so this would give a greater range of students and teachers the opportunity to use the learning apps available.

School Board Vice-Chair Jeff Clark-Kevan questioned whether the IT department would be able to keep up with the demand of clearing the iPads as they came back in and loading the required apps onto them, without increasing staff or costs to the district. Earley said that he believes it’s possible, and does not intend to request additional staff in order to keep up with the work.

School Board member Charlie Eicher voiced concerns that without the technology readily available, there would be teachers who decided not to use it at all. Earley said that he could only promote what he believed to be meaningful teaching practices, and had implemented what he referred to as “Technology Tuesdays” over the summer to show teachers some of the best ways to use technology they might want to integrate into their classroom. Those sessions had included new ways to use iPads and apps in the classroom, but also how to work with Google applications, document cameras, televisions, websites and blogs and other technologies., However, he could not mandate the use of the iPads, he said, and it would be up to each school’s individual administrators to do that, if the board wished.

Resident Pam Shuel said that she would like to see more monitoring of the use of the iPads, mentioning that her son had been one of the students who had access to a 1:1 iPad the previous year, and when he would be meant to be in the library working with it would use the iPad to “play” instead of work. Earley said the school didn’t really have the resources to monitor individual students, but that the new system would be more focused, and students would have less free time to use the iPads for things they were not intended for.

Eicher said he would like to see an itemized list of goals for the new system, so the board could judge whether or not it was being successful. The board should get into the habit, he said, of setting concrete goals to measure success when it put significant time money or energy into a new project. The board agreed to give Earley some time at the beginning of the school year to implement the system, and evaluate it once school had been in session for 60 days.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ex. 244, or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaari.

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