Whether North Summit High School students were making notes on upcoming homework assignments or huddled in groups around their lockers, there was one obvious addition both in classes and in the hallways Monday morning. Student after student was holding his or her own iPad, each tablet assigned by the school as the district rolled out its first one-to-one program.
"The kids are so excited," said North Summit High School Principal Russ Hendry, "and the parents It is going to take some getting used to for teachers, for how they teach. But we have some teachers already using them in the class, and we have had training on how to incorporate the technology."
The program was launched officially on Monday, every high school student receiving an iPad during their English period. North Summit School District Technology Director Kelly Richins, a driving force in establishing the program, joked that attendance was never as good at the high school as when the new machines were being handed out.
"We've been moving in this direction for a long time now," Richins said. "When I started here, we had one computer lab and that was enough. Then we were filling up the lab every day, so we added another lab. Then we started putting carts in the classroom, but we wanted students to be able to take that technology home and complete assignments."
"This is not a textbook," he added. "It is interactive. That is why we wanted the program."
From education applications to online textbooks, teachers will be using the technology in class. It could be a biology class using an app in which students can rotate a three-dimensional diagram of a heart. It could be easier to distribute in-class quizzes.
"I was part of a test group, and I've already started downloading a lot of apps," said high school senior Brandon Folker. "I've been downloading a lot of medical apps specifically because I'm in a lot of medical classes right now. I'm looking at med school, so I really like being able to look at certain body parts or systems."
Fellow classmate Cassidy Black added to his thought.
"I think it is great to have this," Black said. "I travel a lot. I rodeo, so to be able to take it with me anywhere and write documents and turn in assignments, that means I don't have to wait until late at night when I get home anymore."
For the past 10 years, the North Summit School District has considered a one-to-one program for students, where technology is provided to every student, but the timing was never quite right. Evolving from laptops to tablets in the past few years, Richins has been researching the feasibility of a one-to-one program using the district capital funds.
The school district invested $150,000 in providing the iPads using funds separate from the maintenance and operational budget. The School Board unanimously approved of the one-to-one initiative last year, and will spend the next three years fully rolling it out.
"We finished up parent meetings recently, which were mandatory because we really wanted them to understand what we are trying to do," Richins said. "We wanted to show why we are going this way, and some parents had questions, reservations. Once they came to the meeting, we didn't' have one person who was against the program."
Students are required to pay an annual $40 fee to use an iPad, and by the time the student graduates, he or she will be able to keep the tablet when they begin college or start a full-time job. Next year, the school district hopes to implement the one-to-one to middle school students and provide more classroom carts to younger age groups.