Several months ago members of the Lansing Middle School science faculty briefed the Lansing School Board on the school's iPad program.
At the time, the science classes' iPads were part of a pilot program of sorts ― they had requested the board fund the purchase of a shared pool of the Apple tablet devices for the 2012-2013 school year in lieu of purchasing textbooks for every student.
On Monday, according to Dan Wessel, the Lansing district's assistant superintendent, the middle school was hoping to expand that existing program to a new subject area – literature. He proposed the district fund the purchase of 270 new iPads, 30 for each of the nine reading classrooms, for the 2013-2014 school year.
“That is more than what science received,” he said, due to the differing nature of literature and science coursework at LMS.
With other items, like funding for potential repairs, storage carts for each classroom and peripheral keyboards, purchasing the next batch of tablets would cost the district $153,310, Wessel said. Purchasing a year's worth of traditional textbooks, he said, would cost the district $87,240. Though there is a cost difference, Wessel pointed to advantages like the potential to integrate online “open source” materials and flexibility into the curriculum, the ability to take on new types of assignments like making short educational videos and interfaces that allow students to receive instant feedback on tests, quizzes or other assignments.
“I think that you receive a lot more for the money,” he said.
In coming years, Wessel said it's likely that the district will continue to move toward the “one to one” technology, where every student in a classroom has their own device ― an approach already in place in the nearby Basehor-Linwood School District ― which would allow for a completely customized coursework for the schools.
“I think that our teachers have a wonderful opportunity to really get into the things that our students need to know,” he said.
The school board approved the purchase.