Lakeview technology program puts iPads into the hands of students

By Mike Taylor • Last Updated 10:17 am on Tuesday, April 22, 2014

LAKEVIEW— Members of the Lakeview Community Schools Board of Education took care of a number of housekeeping tasks at their Monday night meeting.

First off, the board reviewed the progress being made at Bright Start Elementary School, which will soon be rechristened Lakeview Elementary School. Despite much of the work being done during the past, unusually bitter, winter, the project is proceeding well and is on schedule and on budget.

Contractors currently are putting the finishing touches on new classrooms and painting and installing gym equipment. Wood flooring and repairs to the ceiling, which had to be damaged to install new plumbing and electrical work, also will be completed soon

On the technology front, the board learned that a pilot technology program — in place the past several months — has helped administrators make important decisions regarding which devices to purchase for students next fall.

Although Android tablets originally were a consideration, school board member David England said the system will instead be going primarily with iPads and Google Chromebooks.

“Android is out,” England said. “The pilot program is supposed to show us what is good and what is not so good.”

According to Superintendent Kyle Hamlin, the decision to go with iPads and Chromebooks, rather than less expensive Android tablets, was based on security. The most recent crop of Android tablets, apparently, lack the filtering capacity required for use in a public school system.

Superintendent Kyle Hamlin

The current plan calls for all devices supplied to students to be regulated through the school’s servers; this prevents students from using the devices to visit inappropriate websites or engage in other, non school-related, activities.

“Android does not have the capacity to do filtering by the district,” Hamlin explained. “The current (Android) devices we have to select from do not have that ability. This is based on our need to protect kids from themselves; we can’t send Androids home with our students.”

The iPads and Chromebooks, conversely, allow all information to be filtered back through the school’s servers, thus allowing more careful monitoring of content and usage.

Middle school teacher Leslie Lindsey and a couple of her students shared ways in which the iPads have been used in her classes during the pilot program.

“We use them for pretty much all aspects of learning,” Lindsey said, noting that geometry was one area in which the devices proved especially valuable. “They used the iPads to take pictures of geometric shapes and design them themselves. These projects help them cement the vocabulary (of geometry).”

In other business, the board voted to enter into a cooperative 3-year agreement with Berrien Springs to provide alternative education opportunities for Lakeview students. Berrien Springs currently has similar agreements with several other school districts, including Greenville.

Basically, Berrien Springs will help Lakeview set up an alternative education facility, one that focuses on out-of-school study for “at risk” students who have become disenfranchised with traditional classroom study.

Berrien Springs’ involvement will be a minimum of three years. After that, Lakeview will have the option of assuming full responsibility for the program, continuing the cooperative agreement, or discontinuing the program entirely.

Hamlin said he had been scoping out possible sites for the alternative education facility in available buildings around town.

The school board meets next on May 12.

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