GRAFTON, Mass. – Grafton High School began rolling out iPads this week, hoping to get students acclimated to the devices before the first day in the new school.
"We're not going to be giving up paper, pen and books," Assistant Principal Maureen Cohen said. "What we're doing is recognizing that these tools are important in the 21st century world."
The new $73 million Grafton High School was designed for what educators are terming "21st century learning" – equipping students to learn with the high-tech tools they will be using outside of high school. This will be the first year every student will be equipped with an iPad, which they will bring from home to school and back again daily.
All Grafton High School students need to register for a deployment session, which lasts 90 minutes and requires the presence of a parent or guardian. The basic training involves a discussion of the district's acceptable use policy, information on how to download the required apps and information on the purchase of optional insurance on the device.
Cohen walked parents and students through a typical day in the life of a student using the iPad:
- Waking for the day, the student can check for assignments on the calendar;
- On the bus to school, the student can study using a flashcard app;
- In science class, the student can use the iPad for a lab report, taking notes and pictures;
- In English, a student can search through a Shakespeare play for references to marriage for an essay;
- In art class, students will have instant access to needed images;
- In wellness and physical education classes, students can find their daily workouts and track their goals and progress.
Students who are absent from class will be able to easily catch up with notes and assignments left by teachers. Cohen said she was surprised, during a visit to a school with iPads, to see students chatting online with a classmate who was home with a broken leg but still able to participate in their group project.
With the iPad comes responsibility. Students no longer have to remember to bring a pencil for class – they are now expected to remember to bring the iPad, daily, and charged. They are required to download the Lightspeed browser, which will impose the same safe site restrictions as the high school's network. "Jailbreaking" the iPad is prohibited and will bring automatic disciplinary action.
Food or drink cannot be consumed near the iPads. While students were allowed to eat or drink in class at the old high school, they will be confined to the common area in the new school and iPads will not be allowed at lunchtime.
While the iPads will make some backpacks lighter this year, they will not replace textbooks entirely.
"To be honest, we're not switching over to all virtual textbooks in our first year," Cohen said. "But there will be opportunities for the students to use online books in some classes."