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Madison campuses have 597 iPads

A total of 597 iPads has been distributed among all campuses of Madison City Schools.

About the size of a tablet of notebook paper, an iPad is a computing device and content browser with an intuitive touch screen. An iPad does not process large tasks or store files.

“Using iPads and other handheld tech tools is a good launching pad for our teachers as they begin to understand the potential of technology implementation in enhancing the teaching/learning process,” Jeana Ross said. She is federal programs coordinator for Madison City Schools.

Conversely, tech-savvy students are ready for instructional strategies to integrate digital resources and tools. “We hope to create a dynamic learning environment that supports project-based learning and critical thinking,” Ross said. As a result, “learners are more responsible for and active in the process of attaining knowledge.”

Ross cited U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan from the National Summit on Education Reform in 2010. “Whether it’s near-ubiquitous devices such as SmartPhones, iPads or social media meccas like Twitter, technology within the past five years is woven into nearly everyone’s daily life. Yet the American school system has been left behind, educational policymakers point out,” Duncan said.

Duncan observed that technology has transformed how people interact socially. “It has transformed how we do business, but technology has yet to transform how we provide education,” he said.

Students don’t want to be tied down to a personal computer. They prefer a mobile device, Ross said.

To identify the best mobile device for Madison schools, Ross assembled a group of parents, a school board member, administrators and staff for network technology. They studied price point versus functionality for Kindle e-readers and other equipment, eventually choosing the iPad.

“We wanted to try devices beyond the laptop carts now in schools,” at-risk coordinator Sharon Willis said. “It’s time to (bring) our schools to the same level of innovative mindset as the world in which students will live and work.”

The iPads and a few iPods were purchased with grant money, primarily from Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) sources. Ross worked to secure these grants.

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