Kelly McKewin – All freshmen, sophomore and junior students will receive an iPad at WHS next year as District 214 continues to expand and promote a digital curriculum.
“Our students are growing up in a digital world. This is very different than how our parents grew up. We didn’t have access to these tools. Students are engaged and learning from each other in very different ways. The world is now at their fingertips. It’s exciting to know our students have these types of opportunities to help them be successful in their high school and future careers,” Keith Bockwoldt, D214 director of technology services, said in an email interview.
Since 2010, D214 has been promoting a shift to a digital curriculum by starting iPad pilot classes and encouraging iPad use in classrooms. The first pilots involved only 350 students but have expanded this year to include 9,000 students across the district.
WHS has been a part of this shift and in the last two years, has seen an increase in the use of iPads. During the 2013-2014 school year, only freshmen students received iPads, while this school year the program was expanded to include sophomore students as well.
The decision to provide iPads for only freshmen, sophomores and juniors next year came down to a matter of funding and how easily the technology could be implemented into the classroom. Since next year’s juniors at WHS will have had iPads for two years already, they are familiar with the technology, making the transition easier for teachers.
“As more teachers and as more students are using iPads there is less of a need to teach students how to use technology. Teachers can just get on with their lesson plans instead of worrying about how to teach students to use technology,” Rebecca Kinnee, innovation technology facilitator, said.
Though the entire senior class will not receive iPads next year, a number of seniors will receive them through elective classes. This means that very few students at WHS will not have iPads, which can pose a challenge to them as they try to keep up in a school where technology plays a major role in the curriculum.
However, Ms. Kinnee says that teachers will continue to tailor their curriculums to accommodate the seniors who do not have access to technology.
“It will be challenging to be almost one to one because the teachers are changing their curriculum and getting new ideas about being innovative in their classes. Yet while students aren’t completely one to one, teachers have to plan for all students regardless of their access to technology,” Ms. Kinnee said.
Despite not every student at WHS having an iPad next year, the benefits to switching over to a digital curriculum are still being utilized. Though an increased use of iPads won’t completely eliminate textbooks or papers and pencils from WHS, they have still allowed teachers the chance to update their curriculum more often.
“Digital curriculum can be updated to the next version very easily, whereas a new textbook would need to be purchased increasing the expense. It also reduces the amount of textbooks that students need to carry in their backpacks,” Mr. Bockwoldt said.
The district hopes to provide all students with iPads within the next two years.