Mason Prep iPad Pilot Program (2012-2013)
At Mason Prep we’ve been integrating technology into our classrooms for years. With interactive white boards in nearly every classroom, a traveling wireless laptop cart that delivers computers right to the students, and our 25-seat computer lab, we are always anticipating and implementing new uses of technology to enhance our teaching and student learning.
We are once again moving to the forefront by announcing a tremendously exciting educational program at Mason Prep for the 2012-13 school year. We are starting an iPad pilot program for grades 3, 4, and 5. This is a 1:1 program, which means that every student, teacher, and aide in these grades will get an iPad (the most current version, called “the new iPad.”) Each student in these grades will have an iPad that will travel with him/her to each class and eventually home as well. If successful (and we firmly believe this will be a very successful program), we will expand the program to accommodate other grades in the future.
Through this pilot program, parents in grades 3-5 will not have to buy an iPad for their children. The startup costs for the iPad pilot program are being covered through the generous donations from our families, staff members, friends, etc. to the Mason Prep Annual Fund. We genuinely appreciate the support from all of the donors to our Annual Fund that has allowed this program to become a reality.
How will our students benefit by using the iPads?
The availability of thousands of educational applications (“apps”) allows more interactivity across the curriculum and allows students with differing learning styles to engage with educational content in different ways. As more and more textbooks become available in electronic form, the iPad should also be able to supplement and eventually take the place of traditional textbooks. Its compact size and portability should be able to drastically reduce our students’ backpack load. Next, as we continue to emphasize collaboration, critical thinking, and other 21st century skills, iPads will play a critical role. Finally, we will be able to reduce our dependence on printing paper; students will eventually be able to use dropboxes to electronically submit work to their teachers.
Why did we choose grades 3-5?
First, as a pilot program, we would like to monitor the effectiveness of the program through the following years. By starting our iPad rollout in the intermediate grades, we will be better able to measure the results of the program than if we initially issued the iPads to our middle school students. Next, the use of technology by our students in the middle grades (grades 6-8) has typically been more productivity-based, involving word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations.
These types of applications tend to be more conducive to a desktop or a laptop computer than to an iPad, because of the iPad’s lack of a true keyboard. The number of educational apps for the iPad is staggering, and we have decided that grades 3-5 are the “sweet spot” where our teachers can make the best use of educational apps during the pilot phase of our iPad program.
For 6th, 7th and 8th grade students and parents
In keeping with our commitment to make technology easily available to all students, there will also be some changes to the way we approach technology in our middle grades. The computers in the computer lab are being repurposed for use as faculty desktops, and we are purchasing 25 new Dell laptops for the lab. We are removing the countertops that the desktops used to sit on and will install worktables in their place. The use of worktables will create a more collegial and natural working environment, especially when the students are engaged in group projects. The infrastructure improvements necessary to embark upon our iPad pilot program will also enhance the speed of our network and provide an improved experience for our laptop users.
We eagerly look forward to getting this pilot program started. Our students will begin using the iPads early in the upcoming school year, with the devices being rolled out one grade at a time. Our Technology Director, Steve Broderick, has worked tirelessly to get this program started, and we appreciate all of his efforts. We also appreciate John Horlbeck’s support for the teacher training and infrastructure upgrades that were required to make our iPad pilot program feasible.We thank all of the contributors to the Mason Prep Annual Fund for allowing us to put this powerful and exciting technology into the hands of our students. If you have any questions about the program, please feel free to contact Erik Kreutner or Steve Broderick.