WINTHROP - It seemed Gibbon Fairfax Winthrop (GFW) High School students couldn't get enough of the new iPad computers Thursday in Principal Jeff Bertrang's office.
One student played the piano with a shortened keyboard on her iPad.
Another student read a book on his iPad.
Staff photo by Fritz Busch
Gibbon Fairfax Winthrop (GFW) High School students, seated from left, Jacob Sjostrom, Kyle Hoffman, Bryana Benson operate the new iPads the school got to aid instruction. High School Principal Jeff Bertrang is standing at left.
Another student listened to Spanish words.
Bertrang pointed out how definitions of words could be found on the iPad.
The iPad - a wireless, touch screen, tablet-sized computer - was released in early April by Apple Inc.
The school district allocated $267,748 to its technology fund to become what is believed to be the first school in the country to have the devices at a cost of $479 each.
The money will be used to buy 320 iPads with extended, two-year warranties for students and staff, create Wi-Fi (wireless) infrastructure including routers and access points plus professional development (staff training).
Students like using iPads in school.
"Pretty cool," said Spencer Kruggel. "They're easy to work with. I can do so many things with them instead of shuffling books and papers in my backpack."
Kari Tarlseth said she could take notes with her iPad.
"It'll be easier to do assignments," said Bryana Benson.
"It's exciting to have such new technology in school," said Kyle Hoffman.
Jacob Sjostrom said it was good to get students involved with the latest technology. Students should get more excited about school.
Bertrang said iPads will allow students to receive, do and transmit homework assignments via e-mail.
"One of the first things we have to do is determine what iPad applications best fit classroom curriculum. Apple's consultants have been good to us so far," Bertrang said.
"Students won't have to buy $100 calculators anymore either," he added.
Bertrang said the school has only received a small number of iPads so far but expects to get all 320 before the current school year ends.
iPads will be distributed to teachers this spring.
Summer staff development workshops will be used to decide how iPads will be integrated into classroom curriculum.
Meanwhile, school administrators are working on creating an iPad use policy.
Last fall, the GFW School Board was told by Maplewood-based, educational technology and K-12 online learning consultant David Glick that if they didn't keep up with the latest computer technology, they would get behind in a future world without traditional schools.
Glick said iPads are capable of replacing textbooks and calculators while offering online research capacity.
Goals of the school district's technology budget include adding wireless internet in all three buildings.
Bertrang told the school board recently that biology and math books cost about $85 each and that book firms are working with Apple to put books online.
Lithium ion-polymer batteries power iPads.
Apple claims iPad batteries provide up to 10 hours of video and 140 hours of video playback.
iPads don't have webcams. Digital rights restrictions forbid users from installing software unless it is Apple-approved.
Concerns include the ability of Apple (or any other authority that can persuade Apple) to remotely disable or delete apps, media, or data on the iPad at will.
(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at email@example.com).