Superintendent's Blog

Why Are We Thinking About an iPad2 Pilot for Bedford High School?

April 25, 2011 · 21 Comments


The notion of moving our classrooms to a 1:1 Program is something we have been thinking about for more than two years.  As a district, the 2010-2011 Netbook Pilot at Lane School represented our first classroom implementation.  That pilot program has helped us identify the limitations of this device.  As part of our exploration this past school year, we have looked to 1:1 initiatives in other districts at both the middle and high school level.  While some might question the need to move from mobile labs to a 1:1 model, it is important to recognize that the lab model has limitations in terms of both the time to boot up all the devices and the limited access time.  With the new tablet technology, we now have the opportunity to harness Internet resources 24/7. The opportunity to do so is and will continue to change the landscape in terms of student engagement and instructional design both in and beyond the classroom.

The state of Maine 1:1 initiative has been in place for a decade.  Here’s what we have learned from the Yarmouth Maine 1:1 Laptop initiative that was instituted in 2001:

Equipment Purchase and Management:

  • Laptops are funded using a four year lease
  • State provides of Maine provides $286 annually for each student for technology
  • The district has 2000 computers for 1500 kids
  • The computers have required minimal repairs
  • Technology is central to the teaching and learning environment
  • Students are used as trainers for the annual fall roll out
  • In 8 years, only two laptops have been stolen

Teaching and Learning:

  • Teachers are able to individualize (differentiate) instruction.
  • Teachers are very comfortable learning from students
  • Class time is devoted to discussion and problem solving
  • Students are very engaged

In January 2011, the Millis Public Schools  implemented an iPad Pilot for the entire eighth grade.  To begin the implementation, the district installed 40 Apps on each tablet.  As reported by the middle school principal, the pilot has resulted in the following:

  • The learning environment has evolved to one characterized by more Personalized Learning
  • Student engagement significant and characterized by learning extending beyond the school day, Teachers report that there is not wasted time in class.
  • Teachers are using a Blended Learning model.
  • It’s about effective teaching
  • Kids do their work on the iPad and send it to teachers via email and google docs
  • Some teachers post evening hours noting when they will be online to chat with students

Specifications:  Why the iPad2?

Our instructional technology staff has been piloting various tablet devices during the 2010-2011 school year.  They have examined the capacity of laptops, iPads, and  Droids to help us understand which device makes the most sense for our initial venture into a 1:1 world.

  1. 24/7 Access:  This pilot proposal is designed  to supply each student with ready access to technology on a 1:1 basis 24×7.  The iPad2 fits that need the best of any available device at this time.
  2. Comparative Devices: The technology staff has spent the last year looking at various devices.  We already have laptops in house and a 1:1 pilot with Netbooks for comparison.  They have tested a Droid based tablet for comparison and looked at the iPad extensively.
  3. Battery Life: The iPad2 is very portable and provides 10 hours of uninterrupted use.  Laptops only give a few hours. Netbooks have similar battery life similar to the iPad.
  4. Apps: iPads offer a wide variety of Apps including the ability to use word processing, spreadsheet , presentation software, and web based resources.  The availability of apps for education is significant. The range of Apps enables the staff not only to access a wide range of resources for the whole class but also to individualize learning and address diverse needs more quickly and “in the moment” avoiding the delay and obvious differentiation that often makes students feel different.
  5. Built in camera/movie camera: Some Netbooks also have a built in camera, but the format of the device makes it hard to use.  Netbooks do not have the horse power to run video editing programs.  Speed and ease of iMovie on the iPad2 make it feasible to create short video projects in a fraction of the time with laptops.
  6. Durability – The iPad has  no moving parts to break
  7. Procurement of Apps/software:  Unlike Droid, Apple has a system whereby we can purchase Apps without a credit card.  This is not possible on Droid based units.  The Apple Volume Purchase system already setup to give us 50% discount on apps purchased in quantities of 20 or more.
  8. Access to FirstClass & Aspen – Droid based tablets have very limited access to FirstClass.  No app, can’t use web based version.  Only access is through stripped down web version.  Aspen doesn’t work correctly in Droid based browsers – works well on iPad.
  9. Maintenance: Unlike laptops, which require significant staff support, the technology staff can safely allow students and teachers to install apps on iPads.  With no moving parts, we would not have as many hardware failures.  Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions are available to ease delivery of apps and to manage volume purchase and licensing.  No MDM solution is currently available on a Droid tablet.

Will the iPad2 Meet all of Our Technology Needs?

  1. Limitations:  At this time, we do not see the iPad as a replacement for all of our technology.  There are several things we do with technology now that the iPad cannot do now  (VoiceThread, large movie creation, Foreign Language Lab, Drafting, Art Lab etc.)  We still see the need for teachers, even as students have  iPads,  needing to access laptop carts and labs on a limited basis. While we predict a reduction in the need for the laptops and labs, we still see some need for them.
  2. Paperless Environment:  It is hard to predict how much, but we would expect we would see a reduction of paper use as teachers would deliver material electronically.
  3. Ink/Toner: Along with paper, we would expect to see a reduction in ink and toner usage as well as copier toner as teachers move to electronic delivery of material to the students.  Students would submit more and more material electronically.
  4. Graphing Calculators There is a graphing calculator app
  5. Laptop Reductions – We would expect to see a reduction in laptop cart usage with the 1:1.  Once we can establish the reduction, we could lower our replacement rate as we take carts off line.
  6. Music Midi Lab – There is potential for the Music Midi Lab at the high school to see less need with the iPad2.  Some of the classes they teach could possibly use Garage Band and other apps.  It is unclear that this could be a direct replacement.  We see it more as an augmentation at this time.
  7. Reduced lab usage – Along with the laptop carts, we would expect to see a reduction in the use of some of the computer labs.  It is hard to quantify, like the laptop carts.  Once we  establish a pattern of usage, we could move to a reduction in this area allowing for the  potential to allow space to be free for other uses.
  8. Electricity - With students required to charge the iPad 2 at home, we would see little increase in our electrical needs.  If laptop carts and labs came off line, we would expect a decrease in electrical needs.
  9. Textbook Replacement Plan – This is the most obvious cost avoidance in using the iPad since iPads can access any electronic text book that we already have access to on PCs.

    Categories: Community · Digital Learners · Teaching and Learning

    21 responses so far ↓

    •   Olek Pisera // Apr 26th 2011 at 1:29 pm

      As I understand, the school has struggled with the budget for many years, cutting the middle school athletic program and lowering heating during the winter. Most of the clocks in the high school do not work, and haven’t since the start of the year. Before we blow thousands of dollars on a piece of technology that would add minimally to student education, and marginally increase distractions and rule breaking, including software downloads and game playing. Even if these functions are fully disabled (which is near impossible and loopholes are almost always found) kids will be distracted with the touch interface. There have been no studies that indicate it actually raises test scores, and rather only allegations that apps can help. As I interpret it someone saw that other schools did it, and Bedford, not wanting to be outdone decided to join in. Before we blow the extra money found in the budget, can we please re-evaluate the things that are already wrong, and possibly do something about them?

      A Concerned Student

    •   Anono Mous // Apr 28th 2011 at 9:11 pm

      You do make some good points. However, this seems like a very resourceful idea. I know that my back often aches from carrying around textbooks. A teacher told me that the budget has nothing to do with athletics, as this is left over money from the building budget. The clocks are a very common complaint, and those should be fixed, however iPads do have a clock. I understand that one may think the touch interface is a distraction. However, when laptops and computers were implemented I’m sure many were concerned with the distraction of internet, etc. However, it is apparent that it does not get in the way of learning. I am also sure that the iPads would do much more than “minimally” add to student education, as listed above. A great example is the graphing calculator app-many cannot afford a fancy calculator, but the iPad makes it accessible to everyone. The only problem is other grades might be jealous-is it only freshmen?
      a n o n o m o u s

    •   mlacroix // Apr 29th 2011 at 8:46 am

      In answer to the 9th grade question: for 2011-2012 we will do this pilot in one grade only. This is for both our own learning/planning purposes and because of the financial limitations at this time.

      I agree that the impact on learning will not be”minimal.”. The ability to have 1:1 access for students will be transformational for teaching and learning.

    •   freshmanof2014 // May 2nd 2011 at 9:08 am

      The amount of theft would dramatically increase because you’re only giving it to one class… and I’m sorry but I’ll be honest if you give me an Ipad I’m not going to be using my graphing calculator I’m going to be playing games. And if you haven’t looked around BHS we have NO clocks. that’s kind of a problem. And also, if you don’t play football your sport has zero funding. Like I swim, we have to raise all the money ourselves. Plus, we already have useless smart boards in every class room. You guys are spending money in areas we don’t need it in. I’m sorry but not everyone is loaded and can afford Ipads. This isn’t a private school and your education should not be determined by how much money you have or what class your in.

    •   freshmanof2014 // May 2nd 2011 at 9:13 am

      Also, we had no heat this winter… a problem? I think so, and even though the Ipad does have a clock you’re only giving it to one class… what about the rest of us?

    •   A Smart Student // May 2nd 2011 at 9:15 am

      The article presents good reasons why an iPad may be helpful in school, but I still cannot help but disagree.
      The current economy has been hard on many schools in our area, Bedford included. If money is available to be spent on iPads, can it not be spent on others learning tools that benefit all 4 grade levels, not just one? And although Bedford likes to think that it is exempted from major theft, having many iPads left unattended by students believing their school is 100% safe increases that threat.
      I know from experience (my friend has an iPad) that typing on the ipad screen is difficult to do and is slower than on a normal laptop.
      About the clocks, teachers like to be able to see the time at an instant so that they can plan their class and determine what they do and don’t have time for in the rest of the class period.
      Many students already own a laptop and would be okay with using those in school if it were allowed. Those who do not own a laptop can use a school one. And lets be honest, there are quite a few students at BHS whose parents would purchase for them an iPad if the student so desired.
      Just giving a little of my insight,
      A Smart Student

    •   Anon ymous // May 2nd 2011 at 9:18 am

      While this idea definitely has potential, certain arguments in support of these iPads fall flat.
      1) Paperless Environment – We thought e-mail would make the school paperless but still teachers require tests and worksheets to be completed by hand. iPads could be more mobile in class, but are they really more effective than the computers and email we have?
      2) Graphing Calculators- Graphing calculators are required for some testing. Having an app will not be permitted during a test. Plus, the math department already owns a case of graphing, many own their own, and many never use them throughout high school- this is not very valid argument.
      3) Reduced lab use – We already have spent thousands of dollars on the various labs around schools and simply saying their reduced use is a good thing is ignoring the fact that these labs have good uses, already updated programs and technology, as well as staff trained in them. How can iPads compare?
      4) Choice of the iPad – Laptops are not only equivalent in usage, they are much easier to type on, have better computing power, are cheaper, are already owned by many, and yet still are not allowed in class (along with smartphones).
      The quick choice to move to “modern” or “avant-garde” technology without much regard to price, current policies, or usefulness makes the iPad decision seem almost shocking.

    •   Kevin Altschuler // May 2nd 2011 at 9:28 am

      Although the educational impact would not be minimal, the ipad is the least useful device when coming to education. It is the most overpriced as well. Buying netbooks with flash drives, which means they will have no moving parts will save almost $200 per device, and this much money can easily be used for repairs and maintenance even though there will be little. With price vs hardware, the ipad falls very short as many netbooks will provide significantly more hardware for the price. The iOS apps are just simplified applications, which there are significantly more of on a windows based machine, as well as the fact that they are cheaper, and much more robust. nearly every limitation (VoiceThread, large movie creation, Foreign Language Lab, Drafting, Art Lab etc.) can be supplemented with a netbook. As well as every advantage is met or surpassed with a netbook. you may argue that they are less durable, but (assuming there are about 200 students in the incoming freshman class) we will save nearly $40000 which can all go to maintenance, repairs, and excess expenses.

    •   incoming 8th grader // May 2nd 2011 at 6:53 pm

      as an incoming 8th grader i really like the idea of each student getting an ipad. students in my grade are very good with technology and i think it would be a good alternative for bulky laptops that sometimes work and heavy textbooks. my only question is: do the online textbooks cost so much less then the normal ones that it is really worthwile?

    •   an incoming freshmen // May 2nd 2011 at 8:38 pm

      it is good to see the school department trying to implement technology into the edcucaton of our students, however they are taking the wrong approach to it. just because ipads are the newest device does not mean it could be the best for education. to start off the ipad2 has a ridiculous price of 800 dollars per device and if there are 200 freshmen thats 160,000 dollars spent as apposed to 200 netbooks for 300 dollars , which is only 60,000. the ipad 2 would cost double the price of the netbooks. and mind you 300 dollars was a price from one of the best netbooks on the market which has better specifications than the ipad.(better processing speed battery life ect.) and what probably would interfere with education the most is that the ipad can not by any means have third party software used on it. in other terms; programs that were made by companies other than Apple cannot used on the ipad. As apposed to a netbook running windows which can use any software. speaking of software the “Apps” that are on the ipad are just expensive ,simplefied and less robust versions of the programs that are on any windows computer. as a person with much knowledge in this feild i reccomend the ASUS Eee PC. this is a compact net book that i compared to the ipad2′s price.

      Ipad2 ASUS Eee PC
      cpu: dual core less than 1ghz cpu: dual core 1.5
      graphics: graphics:Nvidia Ion2
      minimal intigrated Dedicated Graphics

      RAM: 512mb DDR RAM: 1GB DDR3
      ( half of 1 GB) (upgradable to
      2 GB)
      Camera: vga camera Camera: .3
      (no mega pixels) megapixels
      Battery life: 10 hours Battery life: 13 hours

      this table shows that the ASUS Eee PC is the technological, financial and education superior to the Ipad2

    •   Leah Hamilton (2013) // May 3rd 2011 at 9:30 pm

      2. Comparative devices
      The iPad is definitely a superior device to the Xoom or other droid tablets. It’s been on the market for much longer, and apple devices tend to be more user-friendly, easier to troubleshoot, and overall better devices. That does not mean that we have to buy it. A laptop, such as the Apple macbook or Dell Inspiron, would be a better use of money because they can run better, more powerful programs that have already been perfected and have more memory per dollar.

      4. Apps
      There are apps being introduced every day for the iPad. However, many of them are still imperfect. There are so many more programs and websites that can be accessed on a laptop. For example, word processing on an iPad is very inefficient because the touchscreen keyboard is hard to type fast on. Therefore, it’s rendered basically useless for writing, english and some history classes. A laptop already has a physical keyboard and has good word processing programs such as Microsoft Word at a low cost.

      Also, kids can download social networking apps such as the Facebook app to use Facebook during the school day, even though the wifi prohibits any user from accessing the actual site.

      6. An iPad will shatter if you drop it.

      7. The credit card-less app store purchases have to be made with a PayPal account.

      8. Access to FirstClass and Aspen is already limited on home computers, as found by most students. The iPad browser, Safari, is much less powerful than Mozilla Firefox or Safari on a computer. This will make it even harder to access our FirstClass and Aspen accounts, and the last thing we need is even more troubles with these programs.

      2. Paperless Environment
      It’s impossible to get rid of paper completely. You can’t do math problems on a screen. Paper is still necessary for a school to function.

      6. Music Midi Lab
      Having taken Music Technology, the computers in the lab are essential for the class. An iPad cannot run the programs that the computers can, such as Finale and Cakewalk. The class went perfectly well without the use of a watered-down GarageBand or other weak iPad apps.

      7. The labs would still be used because this idea won’t work the way its expected to.

      I suggest that all students are expected to bring in their own laptops to use in class. There should be an application process for students who can’t afford a laptop so they can borrow one from the school system for the year. Both macs and PC’s will work for school, unless very specific programs are needed for certain classes in which case the student can talk to their teacher.

      It appalls me that our school system is willing to needlessly waste tens of thousands of dollars when we can’t even buy smartboards for the special education classrooms or fix our own clocks. It is downright disrespectful to the students, the faculty and the taxpayers.

    •   A Wise Senior // May 5th 2011 at 8:55 am

      Problems with the iPad2:
      1) People can download games onto them. Believe me when I say that at least 1 student per class will, at some point in that 70 minute period, be playing Angry Birds or DoodleJump.
      2) Distracting.
      3) Students won’t know how to use them and maybe even break them – all it takes is a slip of the fingers…
      4) Crime rate at BHS will go up exponentially to the point where their learning will be inhibited.
      5) It’s a waste of money. We have computers, we have iPods, we have cell phones, we have graphing calculators, we have watches, we have NO USE for the iPad.
      6) Having 24/7 access is not a good thing. If I had Diet Coke for 24/7, I would get addicted. Having anything for that much time gets you addicted. Trust me. It will create anti-social environments in one of the most social opportunities – education.
      7) They will be used as punishment. For example, if a student is goofing off, a teacher will say “I will take your iPad2 away if you don’t hush up” instead of giving them a realistic punishment.
      8) But most importantly, it will affect the students who might not have enough money – they will be at a disadvantage compared to other, richer students. Their learning will be affected, and I don’t believe that, in a public school, the ability of a student’s learning possibilities should be controlled by how much money they have.
      This is not a private prep school for rich kids. This is a public education system.

      Psychology states that the less social interactions we experience, the less we learn – it’s just a fact. These iPad2 will create little social interactions, as they’d be using this technology instead of asking teachers or classmates for help. Besides, if we put all of a student’s work onto this one object… what if they loose it? What if it breaks? Most areas of their learning will therefore be affected, and they won’t be able to learn, since they don’t have the necessary tools.

      Other things that they could spend this money on that are more important:
      1) Clocks
      2) Classes to teach the teachers how to use the smartboards
      3) Tissues / First Aid
      4) better system than the Wyse computers
      5) Sports equipment spread out (swimming, track, etc)
      6) Give more money to the music department – Obama said that the arts
      7) Expand student parking lot, as the student population is growing and more people are getting cars – there are studies on this.
      8) Fund an actual Drama Department – we have enough activities, but no one to run them. This causes those important events to be disorganized and it falls upon the students, who don’t have enough time as it is.
      9) Re-stock art supplies.
      10) Fix the heating/cooling systems. I watched the program on the Bedford Access Channel about this topic, and how they use the system. First off, the way they heat the school does not work – some classrooms being different than others? Why? There’s no logical explanation for their thought process, as is. They just “assume” the air will be cooler, based on the ventilation system. In turn, the environment for the school as a whole is inhibiting our learning, since we’re so focused on the lack of focus we have due to us “being so cold” or “it being so hot we can barely think.”
      11) Fund field-trips. Field trips are a learning experience than further enhance our knowledge. So, if you’re going to enhance any sort of enhanced learning tool, it should be something that you cannot download Angry Birds onto.
      12) White board markers.
      13) Paper – students can’t turn in essays and other papers by just handing in their iPadz.
      14) Scholarships for future students who need the money.
      15) Better and healthier food in the cafeteria. Some of it is poorly made and/or “old” food that is not healthy to ingest.
      And those are just 15 of the 100+ valid points that many of the student body and faculty have come up with.

      Obama has stated these wise words of wisdom:
      “We need to steer clear of this poverty of ambition, where people want to drive fancy cars and wear nice clothes and live in nice apartments but don’t want to work hard to accomplish these things.”
      The Freshmen have not worked for anything in their life, and do not deserve to be the “test grade.”

      All in all, I believe this could be a colossal mistake by the education system, mainly for the reason that this is a public school. Why pay for the frivolous gadgets when there are schools in Africa who can’t even afford enough textbooks for a class.
      If not spending this money on the school’s necessities, this “extra” money should at least be donated to those less fortunate than ourselves.

    •   Kids of the Future! // May 5th 2011 at 11:44 am

      We are a group of students who will be entering tenth grade. Even though only the incoming freshmen will be receiving this enriching tablet computer, we are excited for them to have a new learning experiences. Technology is so great these days, and those incoming 9th graders will be our future. Why not give them the best resources?

    •   Dave Matthews // May 10th 2011 at 10:27 pm

      Also, Ipads don’t have usb ports. So definite problem there.

    •   An annoyed citizen // May 12th 2011 at 9:15 am

      I don’t pay taxes just so that you can waste the money on Ipads for freshmen and not provide sports programs at the middle school. There are much better options for less money as an incoming freshman pointed out earlier. if anyone deserves any computer or anything like it, it is the juniors, they have to apply for colleges, and all of that stuff. all in all, I think that this is a horrible idea, and that nobody at BHS should get Ipads

    •   Oliver Potts // May 17th 2011 at 9:55 am

      » Why Are We Thinking About an iPad2 Pilot for Bedford High School? Superintendent's Blog is really a nicely put together blog. I dont think my website has a lot in common with yours, although I can (and have) learnt heaps from you, cheers, Oliver Potts

    •   Student // May 19th 2011 at 8:32 am

      Maybe before we upgrade to iPads, it would be more wise to rethink the school’s computer system (Wyse) which is often slow and problematic.
      Also, many textbooks do not have the correct format to run on iPads, and vice versa.
      Google will be releasing new Chromebooks which the school may want to look into. They will be “cloud based” so all of the information will be online, therefor can be accessed on all computers. These Chromebooks will be at a fraction of the cost ($350 dollars). Google will also be launching programs to loan the netbooks out to schools and colleges at small monthly prices.
      Perhaps before we spend money on expensive technology, we should fix the apparent problems with our existing hardware.

    •   Anonomous // May 25th 2011 at 9:44 am

      to An annoyed citizen- the sports is completely unrelated as there are two different budgets. Also, the freshmen will one day be juniors, the plan is to eventually get everyone to have them

    •   Code Gold Noise // May 25th 2011 at 1:39 pm

      Honestly I think the prospect of allowing the incoming Freshmen class to have iPads has just created more trouble then its worth. You can outweigh the drawbacks and benefits but it doesnt do any good. Yes bringing this in would provide more possible learning oppurtunites for new Freshmen, but what about the other classes? Why does this leave them out from this oppurtunity.
      Also I think the likelyhood of theft being a result from these iPads is a duel edged sword. On one hand its not really that likely that students are just going to steal them if theyre recieving them for free. But if you only give them to incoming Freshmen then yes this will create problems of in equality.
      As for being a distraction in class, lets just face the facts. We all know students are gonna screw around on them when class gets boring at some point, I dont think anyone can argue with that. But that doesnt mean it’s going to be like that all the time. The source of that problem is to make the classes more engaging to keep the students attention, rather then follow the same plan and assume that they’ll end up slacking off.
      As for costs other things should be put into a higher priority for the moment. Almost every single classroom doesnt have a working clock, as well as the heating and cooling issues with the vents. People bring up that sports are underfunded but this has nothing to do with the budget, the teams raise theyre money so if students are complaining about that then more fundraisers should be avaliable.
      Then also instead of just going for the iPads the school needs to consider looking at the WYSE systems they use now and instead make them more efficent.

      All in all I’m not saying that new Freshmen shouldnt be alloud this oppurtunity but if it creates an unfair imbalence and inequality among students then it shouldnt be considered and more thought needs to be put into this matter.

      From the thoughts of: Code Gold Noise

    •   Nick Eure (2013) can I use my iPad 1 in class next year? // Aug 6th 2011 at 11:18 pm

      By coming into this conversation late, I do understand that what I say may not be taken into consideration or anything but I would just like to say that not only iPads, but apple products in general are incredibly powerful and reliable tools. I personally love Apple products. In fact I own an Apple Desktop and laptop computer as well as an iPhone 4 and iPad 1. (with out bragging) I would just like to say that I believe these tools, when used correctly, can most certainly lead to academic success. However, I do have a few questions. If a student from another grade level owns an iPad 1 (or 2), can he/she utilize it in their classrooms? Concerning the issue of theft, I believe that it is incredibly unsettling that individuals have the idea to steal personal belongings from other students. I would like to believe that Bedford is a town where theft isn’t an issue, but after having an ipod touch stolen from my locker last year, I have second guesses. I do believe, however, that students will respect the iPads if strict guidelines are put into place to discourage theft amongst students.

    •   mlacroix // Aug 7th 2011 at 6:00 pm


      Great question. Decisions about electronic devices in individual classrooms would be made at the school level. I would suggest that you send an email to Mr. Sills so that he can consider your request.

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