Belding Area Schools OKs major iPad purchase


By Cory Smith • Last Updated 1:03 pm on Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Every student at Belding Area Schools in grades 6-12 will receive an iPad in the 2012-2013 school-year through the purchase of 1,300 units through a $38.8 million bond levy. — Daily News/Cory Smith

Total in purchases for Belding student iPad project

Items included in bond purchase
• (3) 30 iPad carts
• 1,200 iPads for students
• 100 iPads for HS \MS Staff
• Bundled application for document creation
Apple Quote $680,906.19

Cases
• 1,300 Student cases – Infocase   $43,160.00
• 75 Staff cases – Case Logic   $1,839.00

Other
• Enhanced Implementation Services   $50,000.00
Total: $775,905.19

 

BELDING — Starting next school year, students in Belding Area Schools will begin touching and tapping their way into classroom material.

At a special Belding school board meeting Tuesday afternoon, the board approved purchasing 1,300 Apple iPads, putting one in the hand of every student and teacher in grades 6-12 beginning this autumn.

“I think it’s very exciting,” Belding Superintendent Leslie Mount said. “I think the kids are excited to hear that we are going with iPads instead of Netbooks. We have to get away from how school used to be and understand that kids use different tools in their life now. We need to start using them as well and be a part of that.”

The purchase, which includes 1,200 iPads for students and 100 iPads for school staff, three iPad carts, a bundled application for document creation, 1,300 student cases, 75 staff cases and enhanced implementation services, totals $775,905.19. The money is part of the $38.8 million bond levy that voters approved in 2010, set aside for instructional technology.

According to the Apple Inc. website, the iPad is a line of tablet computers designed, developed and marketed primarily as a platform for audio-visual media, including books, periodicals, movies, music, games, apps and web content.

According to Mount, the second generation model, the iPad 2, will be the likely choice to place in the hands of Belding students.

“We’re going to wait,” she said. “We’re not going to send this order out tomorrow. Apple is having a huge announcement (today). Word on the street is that the Apple iPad 3 is coming out. We’re told there isn’t much reason to upgrade from the iPad 2 to the iPad 3 from an educational standpoint, but it could lead to a price drop in the iPad 2. There could also be an issue of enough iPad 2 units being available in stock once they stop producing them.”

Board Vice President Timothy Flynn said he completely supported the decision to purchase the iPads.

“I like the fact that we are able to do this at the middle school and high school as well as get some exposure at the elementary level,” he said. “This purchase is to provide iPads to Ellis Elementary, the high school and middle school staff, and one for every student in 6th through 12th grade. I think that it’s more emergent technology, we’d be foolish to spend this money on aging technology, such as netbooks. This will give us more legs and I wholeheartedly support it.”

Mount said the original decision was to purchase Netbooks for students, but after long and careful consideration, she said that decision was made obsolete by the introduction of the iPad.

“Once we started doing research we found out that everywhere you look in the industry in education, especially at the university level, the Netbook is starting to become one of these antiquating devices that is on its way out,” she said. “The iPad is much more functional in an educational setting with many more options for kids.”

Mount said that policies, as far as how students will use the iPads, consequences for inappropriate use and tampering and rules for using the iPads at home, are still in the developmental stages.

“We need to work out all of the policies still — that’s the largest and most uncomfortable part of this is getting those policies in place,” she said. “The intent is to allow these students to take these devices home with them.”

One policy concerning use of the online Apple store to purchase applications has already been decided. Only students at the high school will have those privileges, as Apple does not allow students younger than 13 years old to use the online marketplace.

According to Mount, the original plan to purchase Netbooks was to use them for three to four years. She said with the iPads they should also be able to use them for that long, if not longer. She said the possibilities are nearly endless with the constant educational applications that are developed for the iPad.

“The iPad can be a textbook too,” she said. “I’ve seen videos where students can read a book on the iPad and when a student is unsure of what a word means, just by clicking on the word in the book, they instantly have the definition presented to them. It’s much more interesting and engaging.”

According to Mount, 90 iPads will be distributed to Ellis Elementary School, 30 for each grade level. Each grade level at the school, kindergarten, first and second, will have 30 iPads to use for the students, which will remain at the school.

Mount said all devices will be monitored and filtered and all teachers will undergo training to become acclimated with the devices this summer after they receive their individual iPads.

The iPads, which will not feature 3rd generation mobile telecommunication (3G), will need a wireless access point in order to be used for online purposes.

Mount said access in the Belding area is increasing with places such as the schools and library offering wireless internet access.

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