HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- For incoming freshmen at western Connecticut's suburban Brookfield High School, hefting a backpack weighed down with textbooks is about to give way to tapping out notes and flipping electronic pages on a glossy iPad tablet computer.
A few hours away, every student at Burlington High School near Boston will also start the year with new school-issued iPads, each loaded with electronic textbooks and other online resources in place of traditional bulky texts.
While iPads have rocketed to popularity on many college campuses since Apple Inc. introduced the device in spring 2010, many public secondary schools this fall will move away from textbooks in favor of the lightweight tablet computers.
Apple officials say they know of more than 600 districts that have launched what are called "one-to-one" programs, in which at least one classroom of students is getting iPads for each student to use throughout the school day.
Nearly two-thirds of them have begun since July, according to Apple.
New programs are being announced on a regular basis, too. As recently as Wednesday, Kentucky's education commissioner and the superintendent of schools in Woodford County, Ky., said that Woodford County High will become the state's first public high school to give each of its 1,250 students an iPad.
At Burlington High in suburban Boston, principal Patrick Larkin calls the $500 iPads a better long-term investment than textbooks, though he said the school will still use traditional texts in some courses if suitable electronic programs aren't yet available.
"I don't want to generalize because I don't want to insult people who are working hard to make those resources," Larkin said of textbooks, "but they're pretty much outdated the minute they're printed and certainly by the time they're delivered. The bottom line is that the iPads will give our kids a chance to use much more relevant materials."
The trend has not been limited to wealthy suburban districts. New York City, Chicago and many other urban districts also are buying large numbers of iPads.
The iPads generally cost districts between $500 and $600, depending on what accessories and service plans are purchased.
By comparison, Brookfield High in Connecticut estimates it spends at least that much yearly on every student's textbooks, not including graphing calculators, dictionaries and other accessories they can get on the iPads.
Educators say the sleek, flat tablet computers offer a variety of benefits.
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PSB's Speaker Opinoins:
David Warlick - Education Technology and 21st Century Learning Expert
I am cautiously optimistic about this trend toward digital curriculum. We do, after all, live and work in a digital, networked, and abundant (overwhelming) information environment. Each of these qualities opens up brand new and exciting learning opportunities that are authentic and potent. This prevailing new info-landscape also requires an expanded view of literacy, and that these new literacies be practiced by students as every day learning skills.
It is with this in mind that I have some concerns about the rapid move to digital curriculum. If all we get are textbooks that glow, then all we've gained is a few pounds and a few hundred-thousand trees (not to trivialize the ecological and ergonomic impact). Learning today is only partly about acquiring knowledge. Rigorous education also involves doing something with that knowledge, and using it to acquire or construct new knowledge. The learning tools that our students use should transform their classrooms into laboratories and studios.
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Dr. Jason Ohler - Teacher, Researcher, and Lifelong Digital Humanist
FromRecent Blog Post: Branding BYOK: On/Off
There is a new acronym that is rapidly becoming embedded in the public narrative about technology and learning: BYOD. It stands for Bring Your Own Device. It opens up an area of inquiry that can be summarized in the following questions: How should communities, schools, and teachers address the issue of students wanting to bring their own digital devices to school? What new opportunities and challenges would a pro-BYOD—or an anti-BYOD policy—present? How do educators manage a BYOD world?
I recently had a conversation with someone whom I consider to be very bright and reasonable in matters of educational technology in which she argued that we should say no to BYOD. I pointed out that she didn't have the option. BYOD won. Kids already bring their devices to school and often use them in ways we don't like because we have yet to define ways to use them that we do like. We are left to figure out how to manage the situation, often in reactive mode, as we scramble our way up a new learning curve.
As a management mantra, I am going to suggest we brand our efforts with BYOD with the following: On/Off.
On/Off means that we say yes to BYOD, and then manage the situation by asking students to use them sometimes, and turn them off at other times.
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