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Norfolk Collegiate School launches iPad program [The Virginian-Pilot :: ]
[August 24, 2014]

Norfolk Collegiate School launches iPad program [The Virginian-Pilot :: ]

(Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, VA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Aug. 24--An iPad on every desk? For 12- to 18-year-olds it may seem like a dream come true.

But Facebook and video games are not the purpose of Norfolk Collegiate School's new iPad program, launched last week as a way to enhance classroom learning.

The program was conceived in 2010 by the school's technology committee with the initial belief that laptop computers would be the devices of choice.

"In discussing it more and experiencing the advances of tablets over the past few years, we came to the conclusion that laptops weren't transformative in the way we believed our school was poised to become technologically," said Charlene Loope, Collegiate's director of instructional technology and communication arts. "The iPad has a lot more flexibility." Norfolk Collegiate modeled its program after similar endeavors at schools in Oakton and Chatham, Va., and Durham, N.C.

Before the school could incorporate iPads, however, it needed wireless Internet access. Wi-Fi was installed at both of the school's campuses in the fall of 2011 and Collegiate became "a wireless, bring-your-own-device-friendly school." "That was the first step," Loope said.

The school also added smart boards in classrooms that fall and initiated a pilot program using laptops in an art history course, investigating how students would use and adapt to e-textbooks, paperless textbooks that could be accessed online. It was a big success.

"The technology plan was an instructional paradigm shift," Loope said. "We knew we needed to be teaching differently." The school later purchased iPads for use by elementary school students to learn reading and language skills. Eventually, the tablets were implemented throughout the school and used to craft and present projects.

Collegiate freshman Mia Mathas said she has used an iPad in school to study math, for research and, her favorite, history -- where she filmed herself as a mock news reporter broadcasting live from a historical event.

"That was so fun," she said.

"The whole idea is to help our students become creative problem solvers, communicators and allow them to create things -- we know those are skills that students need for college and beyond," Loope said.

Each student in grades 6 through 12 is required to have an iPad2 or newer with any size memory for the current school year.

"It's really great," said eighth-grader Max Golovsky. "We need to incorporate more electronics and as long as they're used properly, they can be really useful." Max, who lives in Ghent, said e-textbooks also are cheaper and lighter to carry than traditional tomes.

"You don't have to lug around a big heavy backpack and you pretty much can't forget your books," he said.

"The rationale for technology in this day and age is it's unavoidable," said Scott Kennedy, headmaster and president of the school.

Kennedy said the deliberate and incremental approach taken by Collegiate is exactly the right way to implement new technology into the curriculum and culture of the school.

"We recognize that the teacher is no longer the only source of information in a classroom," Kennedy said. "The teacher is now in the role of facilitation and collaboration. The kids have raw information and the teacher helps them analyze and synthesize the information." While there are limited studies of iPad use in the classroom, many of those that have been done indicate higher achievement by students who use the technology.

At KIPP Academy, a charter school in Houston, a study conducted in 2012 showed that algebra students who used iPads had a 49 percent higher passing rate.

The University of California Irvine required all students in its medical school class of 2014 to use iPads and reported they scored an average of 23 percent higher on national exams than previous classes.

A Pepperdine University study conducted from 2010 to 2011 found that iPads are helpful in the classroom, but students need teacher guidance on how to use them for educational purposes, because most are familiar with them as gaming devices.

"Children have a natural curiosity and intuitive abilities with technology -- it's where we are today," Loope said.

Norfolk Collegiate teachers have done a lot of professional development regarding technology, Loope said, so they will be able to appropriately integrate the iPads into their classrooms and curriculums.

"This is only the beginning of what our students will experience in their lifetime," Kennedy said. "Schools need to embrace the role of technology in education." Lia Russell, 222-5562, ___ (c)2014 The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, Va.) Visit The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, Va.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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