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KCSD updates tech as ninth graders get first iPads

Posted: August 21, 2012 6:08 p.m.
Updated: August 22, 2012 5:00 a.m.

School has begun and students are waking up to alarm clocks set on their new Apple iPads.

This school year, each Kershaw County School District ninth-grader was given an iPad 3 as a part of KCSD’s i-Can program. The district spent more than $1 million for approximately 1,900 iPads, laptops and one-time technology improvement costs after the KCSD’s School Board of Trustees voted to start using iPads instead of laptops this February. Since then, the board has revamped its various acceptable use policies to include the iPads and any new technology KCSD may use in the future. 

Camden High School (CHS) Principal Dan Matthews said he was initially apprehensive about the switch from Windows systems to Apple products.

“I thought Windows is what we needed to go with, but I saw things differently after I used one. They raise the bar for an educational tool,” Matthews said. “When kids change, we need to change with them. We are doing the same things; the structure is just a little different. We feel very good about it.” 

Matthews said he is also impressed with the “sturdy” cases that were issued with the iPads, which help protect against shock and dust. Access to online textbooks means more frequently updated textbooks, something that couldn’t happen with hardback editions. The state has previously been on a seven-year book adoption program according to Matthews, but is now on a common core adoption. There is one textbook being tested with one teacher in each high school this year.

KCSD Superintendent Dr. Frank Morgan previously said “he feels strongly” about phasing in the iPads and the online textbooks.

“I am very big on starting small so that we can work out all of the details,” Morgan said after trustees voted to introduce the iPads earlier this year.

This year the district will test Algebra I textbooks. CHS’s Lisa Twitty helped her students access their Algebra I textbooks online during the second day of school.

“It’s great. It keeps them from having to deal with heavy textbooks.  I think they will take better care of the iPads than they did their textbooks,” Twitty said.

She said she’s found some free apps that her Algebra I students will be able to download as the year progresses to help supplement the online textbook, as well as apps that will help her students stay organized. During her class yesterday, she showed students how to download digital Sticky Notes for their iPads. Twitty wants the class to use interactive apps at least 50 percent of the time they are in her classroom, she said.

Although Twitty didn’t have a iPad before this school year, she did have a Apple computer and an iPhone, so she didn’t need too much help figuring out the iPad.

“It’s a big incentive for me to want to use technology again,” she said. “Last year, I would plan activities, but the laptops were so worn, different issues would prevent us from doing the activity together.”

Ninth-grader Will Rhodus, 15, said although he hasn’t used the textbook yet, he thinks the iPads and online textbooks will help his peers in the classroom.

“I think students will understand the technology and will learn better because of it,” Will said.

Saalik Warren, 14, said he likes that the iPads are light and easy to use.

“I think they are awesome,” Nickolas Jenkins, 15, said.

Nearly 20 students in Twitty’s class of 25 had regular access to iPads or laptops before they were issued iPads through the KCSD.

Parents are required to pay a $25 for an insurance protection plan that covers the replacement of the iPad if it is lost or stolen, but does not cover “neglected or intentionally abused” devices. Lost or stolen devices must be reported to the principal within the first 24 hours and the protection plan does not cover the battery, charger or protection case. Ninth-grade students and their parents were also required to sign KCSD’s Acceptable Use Policy, which outlined appropriate use and care of their computing devices.

Lugoff-Elgin High School students have also received their iPads; North Central High School is scheduled to give out iPads Aug. 28. Rising 10th-graders had their PC units replaced with new Hewlett-Packard laptops.

Director for Communications Mary Anne Byrd said iPad enrollment has gone well, and the “smooth transition” is attributed to planning.

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