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Nevis students to receve iPads

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news Park Rapids, 56470

Park Rapids Minnesota PO Box 111 56470

BY JEAN RUZICKA

Nevis students pre-K through grade 7 will be introduced to iPads next fall.

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The board approved the purchase or lease of 250 of the computers to be distributed when the new school year begins.

The two preschool classrooms will receive six each with kindergarten, first and second grades receiving 12 per classroom, roughly a two student to one computer ratio.

Kids in grades three through seven will each be issued an iPad.

Cost of the computers is $94,750 ($379 each). With cases and apps, the total is approximately $112,500. Superintendent Steve Rassier noted 80 percent of districts lease the computers over a three-year period.

Consensus has not been reached as to the device for grades 8-12 “which led to a recommendation that implementation be delayed until later in the year, with hopes that further research will provide the right product for this age group,” Rassier reported.

Principal John Strom said the district is leaning toward a Windows-based product for the upper grades, but the current price of the devices precludes a decision at this point. Strom said he expects prices to drop 20 to 30 percent in coming months.

In a report drafted for the board, Strom stated, “Defending the introduction of iPads in pre-K to seventh grade is not a straight forward assignment. The primary problem is there is no definitive proof at this time that positive educational benefits will ensue. This is because long-term studies take a long time to perform. There are assumptions, a few inadequate short-term studies and many projections that could be accessed. There are many long term definitive studies pertaining to laptops in education. These date from the early to mid-1990s. I make an assumption that the questions they answer can be applied to tablet computers.”

He told the board that, overall, teachers are showing strong support for the implementation. Teachers, he said, need the product in hand, to spend time on it before introducing them in the classroom.

“Greater academic success is the ultimate goal,” Strom said of the purchase.

Strom presented information from several sources on the issue, including ProjectRED, a national research and advocacy plan investigating how technology can re-engineer the education plan.

The study found properly implemented educational technology can be revenue positive at all levels.

Continuous access to a computing device for every student leads to increased academic achievement and financial benefits, the study concluded.

Technology-transformed intervention improves learning.

Online collaboration increases learning productivity and student engagement.

And daily use of technology delivers the best return on investment, the study determined.

The school will likely self-insure the devices, with students asked to pay a “rental fee.”

Gary Stennes suggested a scholarship program be initiated, if this is approved, for students who are unable to pay.

“I think this will challenge students to meet their highest possibilities,” chair Ed Becker said.

“Can we work this into the budget?” Stennes asked, noting the savings on textbooks won’t be immediately realized.

“We can make it work financially,” Rassier told him. “Absolutely.”

The motion to purchase the 250 iPads, cases and applications met approval with Andy Lindow voting against the measure. “A lot of questions are yet to be answered… I’m looking at this as a taxpayer,” he said.

Teachers are expected to have the devices in hand by May.

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