With the start of school last week, students are seen all around town carrying their notebooks, folders and…iPads?
As part of their new 1:1 program, Pella Christian High School has equipped each student with their own iPad that they can use in the classroom and at home. As part of their technology plan for the past couple of years, teachers and faculty are excited to finally see the technology get in the hands of every student.
“One of the goals is to keep our students competitive. And as a Christian school we want to make sure that our students understand that technology is important, but also understanding the evil of technology. We’re trying to educate our students on how to use it as a powerful tool and also how to discern between good and bad things on it,” Pella Christian Technology Coordinator Frank Vanden Bosch said.
For the past couple of years, the school has used computer labs and laptop carts where teachers could reserve use of the laptops, but the school was starting to find that there wasn’t enough available access to the computers for all the students.
Pella Christian teachers along with the administrators and school board started talking about getting a device for every student and looked into starting a 1:1 program.
“With this process we did our homework and we originally started looking into it three years ago. We did a lot of surveys seeing what the parents wanted, what they thought and what the students wanted,” Pella Christian Librarian Sheri Haveman commented.
The Technology Committee visited schools in Michigan and Iowa that had successful laptop 1:1 programs, but PC wanted to start a 1:1 program where they used technology that is more advanced where they could be a leader, so they decided on the iPad.
“We definitely wanted to do something where we could be a leader in that field. We thought this is going to be more difficult than a laptop 1:1 program, but if we could do it right and do it well, it’s something we could share with other schools - our successes and our failures. It’s something we wanted to try to do as a school because it’s definitely the 1:1 device of the future,” Vanden Bosch commented.
The iPads have several features the school can use in conjunction with their content management system called Moodle. Teachers can upload assignments where students can digitally view their syllabus and homework. Students can research during lectures, download presentations and instantly upload documents as opposed to keeping handouts from their teachers. The system also syncs each student’s Gmail calendar so teachers can put homework assignments on the calendar and it shows up on the student’s calendar on their iPad.
“The two of these things in combination have been so far a big success because the students really love having digital access to all their documents instead of having handouts,” Vanden Bosch said.
The parents, school board and principal were behind the idea from the start and have been supportive over the past couple years as the technology committee planned and executed the 1:1 program.
“Having a principal that’s really behind it and into making this work is the reason it’s successful and we have a lot to thank God about that we actually have the possibility to do this with our students. It’s really exciting,” Vanden Bosch commented.
The school just rolled out the new program last Wednesday. So far, so good and students are loving having one of the latest piece’s of technology on the market.
“We’re expecting some bumps on the road and hiccups in the journey and that is stuff we’re planning for but so far it’s gone really well and the students seem to be really engaged in not only the iPad but being able to learn through it,” Vanden Bosch said.