Monday, July 16, 2018

New iPads Coming for Minnetonka Grade 5-12 Students to Accelerate Learning

Image Source: Apple
Image Source: Apple
At its last meeting the Minnetonka School Board unanimously approved the purchase of new iPads for our 6,400 grade 5-12 students (watch the meeting). Funding will come from a three-year payment structure. For the past eight years in our 1:1 iPad program, we have refreshed about a third of the devices each year. This means that students in our 1:1 iPad used an iPad that was no older than three years. After three years, we collected these iPads and redistributed them to our K-4 students to use in their classrooms in small sets at a ratio of about 1:4. We also have been cycling out the oldest iPads to a reseller, because the value of iPads that are five or more years old is still quite high.

Because of our past rotation schedule, this meant that students in our 1:1 program were using three different models of iPads. The memory, speed, and operating systems capabilities varied--such as split screens being available on new models but not on older ones, etc. The decision to do a mass refresh will mean that all students will start with a new device this fall with the same capabilities: an iPad 6th Generation

There are many exciting features for learning in these new devices, including the AR capabilities, of which the current possibilities are only beginning. The Apple Pencil will also work with these iPads. We are purchasing some of these Apple Pencils for teachers to use in an extended pilot. We are anxious to see how teachers use this additional tool for instruction, adding the ability to easily annotate as they instruct with a wireless mobile device using apps like Notability and Explain Everything. Students will be able to use their own Apple Pencil if they so choose.

In order for this to happen, we had to collect all of our current iPads about one month ago. In the past we had only collected about 1,600 iPads at the Last Minute to Maximize LearningA few weeks ago we collected almost 6,000 student iPads in the final week of school. Normally our students keep their iPads for the summer, but because of this mass refresh, we collected almost all of them. Some exceptions were teacher iPads as well as about 800 students taking a Tonka Online class this summer. These two groups will trade in their old iPad for a new one in August when everyone else receives theirs as well. Below is just a small sampling of photos showing what the organization and process of this collection looked like:

Photo by Sara Hunt
Photo by Sara Hunt 
This process involves a tremendous amount of work on the part of teachers, staff, and students, too. I am thankful it went so smoothly and look forward to getting the new devices in the hands of our students and teachers next month to accelerate learning in the coming years!

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