I came across an interesting article about iPads called iPads No Longer Optional, by Bridget McCrea in Transforming Education Through Technology, T/H/E Journal (2/23/2011). What I found particularly interesting about this article is that it demonstrated the situation that almost every school district is facing at the present time, or has recently faced -- obsolete technology. The Webb School of Knoxville (in Tennessee) had an opportunity to assess the status of their IT department and found the infrastructure to be severely lacking with an expected cost of $550,000.00 to bring it up to "a reasonable level". They made the decision to embrace the most recent technology rather than updating the equipment that existed and bringing it to the point where it would be functional -- FUNCTIONAL, not appropriate. Applause goes out to this school for looking forward and not being afraid to choose the unfamiliar. Updates would have had to be done eventually and choosing the best option for the students rather than focusing on budgetary limitations was a brave choice.
That being said, however, they also discussed the largest difficulty the faced, bringing the iPad into each child's hands. As we all know, iPads are expensive and don't normally fit into the budgets of families with young children. The school understood this challenge and, in addition to ramping up the IT department, they worked out a plan to get an iPad for each child. Some already had one, others would be offered the opportunity to lease one from the school on a monthly payment basis for those who needed such an option rather than increasing tuition, which would have affected every student regardless of whether they needed an iPad or not.
This article shows that if a district is creative and willing to put the needs of the student first each of our students will be ready to face the world we are expecting them to run. Another interesting fact brought up in the article is that the cost of bringing in the new technology was the same as revamping the old technology. Yes the students did have to provide their own iPad or lease from the school, but the opportunities they were being offered far outweighed the initial outlay. Time is not going to stand still because of budgetary issues and taking the opportunity to invest in the futures of our students is a far better investment than "updating" outdated and obsolete equipment. Wise decision!