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Saint Francis High Chooses New iPad for 1:1 Initiative

A private high school in Mountain View, CA will launch its school-wide one-to-one program using Apple's latest generation of iPads. Saint Francis High School has run multiple pilot programs over the last two years to evaluate several types of devices, including laptops, netbooks, e-readers, and tablets. The final decision, according to the school: The Apple iPad is the most promising device on the market today.

The school's 100 teachers will receive new iPads as soon as they're available. Although the instructors have already received professional development on integrating Internet resources and technology tools into the classroom, they'll also receive training focused on the iPad tablet later this year. Students--all 1,700 of them--will receive their iPads in time for the start of the 2012-2013 school year. The program will encompass about 1,800 32GB iPads in total.

The evaluation process included running products through comprehensive testing, seeking teacher and student input, speaking with other schools about their experiences, and reviewing research and media coverage of the devices. "I am confident that we have selected the best device for our students and our teachers," said Principal Patricia Tennant.

Among the reasons cited by the school for choosing the iPad:

  • Apple's history of working with schools;
  • The size of the community of other schools already running iPad programs with which Saint Francis hopes to collaborate;
  • The iPad's ability to serve multiple purposes, including as textbooks, notebooks, binders, lab books, calculators, communication tools, calendars, cameras, video recorders, world atlases, periodic tables, dictionaries, encyclopedias, Shakespeare anthologies, and lab computers;
  • The iPad's light weight and long-lasting batteries;
  • An expectation that textbook publishers, e-text providers, and Apple itself will be able to migrate many of the textbooks in use at the school to digital editions;
  • The ability to use an extensive library of educational apps;
  • Support for multiple languages;
  • The use of a touchscreen, which "encourages interactivity and engages students";
  • The availability of keyboards for long format writing assignments;
  • The ability of the iPad to be used even when it's offline; and
  • The ability to cut down on paper usage throughout the school.

The school said families won't be charged an additional fee for the device. The school will own the iPads and loan them to each student. As part of the new program, students will need to pass computer literacy and Internet safety classes as part of their graduation requirements.

Saint Francis is hiring an educational technologist to support teachers in integrating technology with lessons. It will also be upgrading its wireless network infrastructure and expanding its use of online communication tools for students, teachers, and parents.

"The new iPad will transform the way our teachers teach and our students learn," said Tennant. "We also see this as a valuable opportunity for our students to become responsible digital citizens in our global community."

"I can't wait to see students engaged and learning in a digital environment that reflects the world in which they are growing up," added Matt Maguire, science teacher and a member of the school's technology committee. "I also look forward to collaborating with my creative colleagues to integrate the new iPad into our curriculum. The combination of inspiring students and invigorating our faculty will propel education at Saint Francis to the next level."

Later this year the school will also open the new Sobrato Family Learning Commons. This 30,000 square foot space will host a student center and library/media center. Besides providing flexible study and collaboration spaces, the Learning Commons will also provide students and teachers with access to other technology resources, including PCs, Macs, Google Chromebooks, and Amazon Kindle e-readers.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.