UPDATED: Students, parents, teachers change from laptop to computer pads$172,709 per year
Rockland — Parents raised questions about costs, equal access and Internet safety Sept. 11 during a presentation at Rockland District Middle School concerning the new Apple iPads that will be used by middle school students this year.
Principal Kathryn Hollicker explained the program to a large number of community members including parents and students in the meeting in the school gym. Students grades 5 to 7 in the school will be using Apple iPads instead of laptops this year as part of the ongoing Maine Learning Technology Initiative.
There to help her explain the program were other teachers, technology staff members and visiting expert Apple employees, including one who traveled from Seattle. These experts walked parents and students through starting up their Apple accounts on the new iPads.
In the past, seventh-grade students have received laptops.
This year the district purchased 1,183 iPads, according to Regional School Unit 13 Information Technology Director Bruce Johnson. They will be utilized throughout the school district schools in grades 5-12.
This will cost $172,709 per year over four years, Johnson said.
Some parents raised questions and concerns during the meeting. Parents asked if they needed to have Internet access or wireless Internet access in their homes so their students could complete assignments. In addition, some parents asked if their student opted out of the program, if they could still participate equally in classes.
School administrators and teachers said students would not be forced to use the iPads and would have the option of an equivalent curriculum without them. They are also not required to have Internet at home.
Students will be able to access information and texts through the iPads and complete and turn in homework that is paperless and wireless. Teachers even foresee them typing up papers and assignments on the iPads.
It was explained at the meeting that parents would be expected to pay between $25 and $50 for insurance on the iPads, depending on their status in receiving free or reduced lunch. The insurance, however, does not cover the full expense of repairs or replacement of the iPads in the case of them being broken, according to a school computer technician. In the event of a student breaking or damaging the device, parents are responsible for paying a deductible of $50 on top of the $50 they had already paid as a premium for the insurance.
The meeting also involved an explanation of how the students can download applications for the iPads for educational uses.
Following the informational meeting in the gym, parents and students crowded into classrooms in the building where their students' iPads were passed out so they could create student identification passwords. The iPads will go to students next week. Many parents turned in checks to pay for the insurance during this meeting.
Participating schools are Owls Head, Oceansides East and West, Thomaston Grammar and St. George.
Disclosure: Daniel Dunkle's children attend RSU 13 schools.
Courier-Gazette Editor Daniel Dunkle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 594-4401 ext. 122.
207 594-4401 ext. 122
Daniel Dunkle is editor of The Courier-Gazette and news director for Courier Publications. He lives in Rockland with his wife, Christine, who also works for Courier Publications, and two children.
Dunkle has previously served as editor of The Republican Journal in Belfast. He has worked as a reporter and photographer in the Midcoast for 15 years.
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