Michigan school district buys iPads for high-schoolers

Michelle Fields Contributor
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Students are no longer giving educators an apple. Instead, public educators are now giving student Apples worth more than $500.

According to USA Today, Zeeland Public Schools in western Michigan has decided to give an iPad to every one of its 1,800 high school students as part of a new program. Educators’ longer-term plan is for every student in grades 3–12 to have an iPad in their hands.

“They think technology now — live, breathe and eat it,” said John Holwerda, assistant principal at Zeeland West High School. “We’re coming to their world, instead of them coming to ours.”

That migration to a new world has cost Michigan taxpayers $1.3 million so far. The money for these expensive 21st-century classroom notebooks comes from the school district’s taxpayers, who voted to approve a $20 million bond issue for school improvements.

Six iPads were reported broken during the first two weeks of the program, said Stephen Braunius, director of instructional technology. The school district, however, bought insurance for all of the iPads.

Teachers are using the tablet devices to communicate with students, assign homework, and administer tests.

“What you’re seeing here is the evolution of education past the PC era” says Carl Howe, research director at Boston-based Yankee Group, a technology advisory firm.

Although Zeeland Public Schools has blocked Facebook to keep students from being distracted, they still have access to Twitter, Skype, and iPad games.