Tablets Lead Charge in Classroom Innovation

by Luke Jones  on Monday, Jul. 16, 2012 12:00 am  

Apple Inc.'s iPads, above, and Apple Learning Labs are showing up in Arkansas' K-12 classrooms. (Photo by Apple)

The iPad has come a long way since its introduction in 2010, and now it's showing up in schools as an instrument of innovation.

The technology is finding its use in different ways around the state. On the K-12 side, some notable examples come from two schools in poverty-stricken areas south of Jonesboro.

In Cherry Valley in the Cross County School District, all students in kindergarten through second grade have access to iPads, which travel between classrooms on Apple Learning Labs.

The labs are wheeled carts about the size of filing cabinets. Each can charge and sync up to 30 iPad devices and can also hold a MacBook computer.

Apple also has a similar product for MacBooks, which holds 20, and for iPods, which holds 40.

Click here for a sidebar on how some schools are using e-books.

Superintendent Matt McClure said Cross County was the only "1-1" school district in the state, which means one computer per every student. The elementary school has about 350 students, with 75 percent of them qualifying for free or reduced lunch. It was also recently converted into a charter school.

McClure said iPads offered greater convenience and mobility than the standard computers. "We had computers in every K-2 classroom before," he said. "It wasn't as versatile. It was kind of cumbersome. The desk took up a whole lot of area."

Apple has a wide variety of applications for school subjects, McClure said, and the 1-1 system means any student can use them. "It's an equalizer," he said. "It puts all kids on the same level. That's why we think it's important."

Click here for a sidebar on apps popular in K-12 classrooms.

Eventually, McClure said, the entire school may have access to iPads. Using them in higher grades can be difficult, he noted, because many of the team-based classes those students are taking require the use of keyboards, which is a weakness for iPads.

Middle school students are using iPads at the neighboring Harrisburg Middle School, where poverty also runs deep.



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