Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

April 25, 2013

Raleigh County students to receive iPads

By Sarah Plummer
For the Daily Telegraph

Raleigh County Schools is at the helm of a voyage to saturate the district with enough Apple iPads to not just integrate technology as a tool for learning, but to change the way students learn and interact in the classroom.

Superintendent Jim Brown said a long meeting with Apple representatives on Tuesday has left the district ready to finalize a 5 year lease with Apple. Plans are to have that lease come before the board of education for consideration by May 28.

As it stands, the committee working on the Raleigh County and Apple partnership proposes to have one iPad for each student in the county in grades 2-12. They hope to have one iPad mini per every two kindergarten and first-grader, and one Macbook Air and iPad mini for school and district level administration, said Brown.

The iPad 2s that have already been purchased by the school district will be redeployed to second-graders and the first generation iPads will be returned to Apple for a cash value on the school’s lease, he said.

Brown explained that students will begin to have technology in their hands this September. He said tentative plans are that elementary schools will have iPads deployed around Sept. 9, middle schools around Oct. 21 and high schools in December.

“We asked, ‘How in the world do you deploy that many devices in that short of time.’ But Apple is going to show us how to do it and do it well. We are going to make this happen,” he said.

Over the summer, the district will stagger training sessions and hope to schedule seven half-day trainings for each teacher in the district next school year.

Brown said they hope to have as much as 40 hours of training for teachers to aid with implementation.

And just deploying the technology into the classroom isn’t the only major development taking shape.

Brown said the district is looking for a facility to use as a Raleigh County Technology Center where teachers as well as business partners and organizations can take part in technology training.

“We see this as branching out, not just about the school during the school day, but across the community,” he said, mentioning other ways students could mentor groups in the community through technology.

Eventually they hope to set up a virtual classroom in the center for homebound instruction as well as alternative education students, Brown said.

Brown added that many people have asked how the district will be able to pay for a full-scale implementation of this sort.

“We are excited to tell everyone we can do this with existing levy funds, Step 7 funds from the state, and additional state aid technology funding,” he explained.

Board President Richard Snuffer added, “For years we have imagined that technology could be a magical thing for education, but it wasn’t. Computers sat in the back of classrooms with a cover over them. The great thing about the iPad is that our kids will have them in their hands every day. We would rather them be worn out than rusted out.”

Raleigh County Schools is working with Apple Account Executive Angela Miller and Education Development Executive Peter Oyler on this implementation.