CMS students receive iPads in Eden Prairie

A pilot program to get iPads into the hands of Eden Prairie middle schoolers went so well the district rolled it out to all students.
About 1,400 students at Central Middle School spent two hours setting up new iPads assigned to them Tuesday, Jan. 28.
Technology Director Josh Swanson said he’s noticed an increase in iPad use just in the first week students have had the iPads, with students using them in their classes for everything from note-taking to test-taking. He observed students take a multiple choice test on their iPads, receiving their scores minutes after it was over. It also allowed the teacher to see right away if students were understanding the material.
The iPads are part of the district’s i-Learn@EP initiative, with the goal to have early education through 12th grade going digital.
The laptops will be like a textbook, Swanson said, with students receiving it at the beginning of the school year and return it at the end.
Within the next couple of years, the district will become a  seventh- to 12th-grade digital district, he said, with a new pilot program at the high school this spring handing out more than 3,000 MacBook Air computers. All high school students will have them for the 2013-14 school year.
“Along with listening to input from parents and staff, we put a great deal of thought into which device would be most appropriate for high school students,”  Superintedent Chris Tryggestad said. “The laptop computers for high school students are better aligned with how high school students apply what they have learned.”
After digitizing the high school, the district plans to turn to the elementary schools, Swanson said.
Although the technology is cool, at its core, it’s about the way teaching students is changing, he said. They were only going to begin rolling out the new iPads and computers if teachers were prepared to use them in the classroom. Teachers at Central Middle School were given training throughout the spring, summer and fall on how to use iPads in their classroom.
“Our job is to give them high quality professional development,” he said.
The full cost for the digital devices and related costs is $1.5 million per year. The purchases will be funded by reallocating portions the district’s textbook budget and technology levy, according to the district.

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