Technology dependent middle school students were the inspiration for a recent modern twist in Colorado public schools. When internet capacity was bursting at the seams in Manitou Springs Middle School the problem was found in students’ pockets. Smartphones and hand held devices connected to the internet were filling up online space meant for school computers. The discovery helped district officials to realize that schools may benefit from their students’ obsession with technology.
Instead of punishing students who are constantly online at school several Colorado public schools have responded with an alternative method; handing out iPads. To keep up with the curve, many schools are replacing traditional bound books with electronic versions and going digital on class assignments. The goal is to use cutting edge technology to streamline student learning and classroom interactions. Every student at Manitou Springs Middle School will enter the 2012-2013 year with an iPad 2 in hand.
At roughly $500 per unit the iPad purchase seems hefty for public schools but Colorado school districts have crunched the numbers and plan to save money with their new plan. Electronic copies of books are less expensive to purchase than physical copies and thousands of free or inexpensive applications will change the way students and teachers interact. One reading comprehension application allows students to submit assignments with immediate grading which is then emailed directly to their teacher. Another application allows for the virtual dissection of frogs; easing expensive lab costs and squeamish stomachs. iTunes gift cards will be distributed to teachers encouraging them to explore the multitude of applications that will help create engaging and educational lessons.