Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Jeff Fastnacht on 24-05-2013

Since 2010 the Ellendale School Technology Committee comprised of teachers, parents, and students has discussed the next step in transforming teaching & learning in respect to technology.  As many of you know technology has changed considerably during that time.   In early 2010 Apple released the first iPad which transformed the way we viewed personal learning devices.  Up to that time if you wanted a mobile learning device it was a clunky laptop.  Just consider how accessing information, communicating with others, and mobile computing has changed since 2010, it is remarkable.  In 2010 the technology committee did not feel comfortable with any of the new devices including the iPad and since that time has been weighing the many options available.

In April of this year the technology committee made their final recommendation to the Ellendale School Board that outlined a plan to provide individual learning devices (iPads) to all students 4th – 12th grade.  This plan had been formulated over many months and took into account research on best practices, site visits, and almost two years of small group testing here at EPS.  The plan would have an iPad for every 7th – 12th grade student starting in the fall of 2013.  Additionally students in grades 4th-6th would also have iPads available but only in their classrooms.  In these lower grades the devices will remain at school unlike in the upper grades where they would be used by students 24/7.  These devices would be used to enhance and extend the already outstanding learning taking place in our classrooms.

Why a personal learning device?  Why use an iPad?  Personal learning devices (iPads) support essential skills for today’s learner and worker.  Students today are entering a working world where complex communication, media literacy, creativity, and self-directed learning are imperative.  We believe the iPad will foster immersive and active learning environments where students have the power to find data and information almost instantly to extend their learning.  We believe an iPad allows unprecedented opportunities to develop personalized, student-centered learning.

At the May Ellendale School Board meeting this plan was approved.  Starting over the summer all teachers will be engaging in 4 days of professional development to gain skills on how to use this technology to enhance their teaching.  Then in the fall of 2013 students in 4th-12th grade will receive their iPad and training.  Before school and throughout the fall we will be hosting parent meetings to show you how these devices work, but also techniques you can use to monitor and manage them at home.  Every device will be filtered to provide as much protection as possible to unwanted content both at school and at home.  Then throughout next year we will continue to train teacher, monitor progress, and assist students and families as this roll-out unfolds.

This is an exciting time and a necessary advancement in education for our students.  This plan focuses first on how technology is already, and will continue, to transform access to information and learning.  I had a parent in Ellendale share with me how they are already sending iPads in the field with their hired hands to access information to properly set up their planters.  This technology is already being used by many of us in our working world today.  Imagine what it will be like for our kids when they enter that same working world in 2 to 8 years.   This is a necessary change to empower our children for success in their future.