“I really believe that they get to see it, touch it, hear it,” Weldon said. “That’s just going to help students learn faster and be able to retain more.”
He said elementary school students study reading and math on their iPads, while those in grades seven through 12 use the devices for all core subjects. School officials check the iPads out like library books and collect them at the end of the year.
In the process, the school has been able to cut down on paper usage by 50 percent, Weldon said, and sees few of the iPads damaged or destroyed. In fact, only nine of 360 were broken last year.
“They take pretty good care of them,” he said.
Weldon said school leaders provide training for younger students on how to use their devices, but it’s readily evident which students already have such devices at home and are familiar with their operation.
McGuinness’ Morton said such familiarity allows educators to create more opportunities to engage students, and potentially can make learning easier.
Meanwhile both leaders said they built in enhancements to their technology and security infrastructures, and they stay on the lookout for students using the devices to text or surf the Internet for content not related to school.
“We know that you can text with it, you certainly have some online capabilities, but our firewall system is pretty beefed up so they can’t get to places they shouldn’t be,” Morton said.
“We felt like they needed to be able to use it as an educational tool and not just a toy.”