By Sarah Plummer
Providing a computer for each student in Raleigh County may be on down the road, but the district is proposing to take the first step by making sure each teacher in the county has an iPad.
Raleigh County Schools Technology Specialist Mary Ann Foster talked about this proposal at Tuesday’s board of education meeting.
She said because many schools have purchased iPads on their own for teachers and because county grants have already purchased some, only 183 iPads are needed for each teacher to have access to one.
“We are going to move to one-to-one computing, we owe that to our students, but this is an important first step. We need to give our teachers that advantage.” she said.
Foster explained that having teachers first become accustomed to the iPads will prevent them from being overwhelmed when students also have technology upgrades, and it will get them to integrate technology into their classrooms more readily.
Each teacher will also have access to an Apple TV, which allows the teachers to project from the iPad onto any flat surface.
“The iPads are a great resource for the classrooms and are compatible with GradeQuick and the other resources we already use,” she said. “Whether we decided to go with iPads for the one-to-one or another device, this is still technology we can provide now to get teachers more comfortable with it.”
Foster also proposes providing teachers a half-day of training to begin with and also have technology integration specialists, assist teachers in their classrooms and schools.
Superintendent Jim Brown explained that with a classroom using iPads, students can project their individual work on the board and the class can make changes or collaborate together from their seats.
Brown and Board President Richard Snuffer mentioned other exciting directions the county is taking in technology.
Brown explained that the county is currently working toward setting up a structure that would allow students to access school programs and resources (like Headsprout or Microsoft Office) they use in the classroom from home.
Like a virtual private network, the remote access would allow students to create files and complete work they would then have access to from school computers, too.
Brown said the county is setting up this virtualization for homebound instruction and explained it might also be used to allow kids extra instruction time from home during sick days or inclement weather.
“Some children who do not perform well in a traditional school environment may do well by attending the class through Skype or by following the school work virtually,” added Snuffer.
Students who want to take courses that are not offered at their home school may be able to attend the class virtually without spending one or two hours a day on a bus traveling between schools, Snuffer added.
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