BBA to become iPad school

MANCHESTER - Burr and Burton Academy will become one of the 105 schools in Vermont with a 1:1 technology program by distributing iPads to every student. Burr and Burton Academy has decided to administer the iPad program to connect students to a world of knowledge by "having full-time access of technology" says Peter Drescher, State Coordinator of Educational Technology of Vermont.

These iPads, made by Apple Inc., will be instituted at the beginning of the 2013 - 2014 school year.

Students in grades 9-12 will each receive their own iPads to use. If a student already uses a personal iPad, they will be required to use the school distributed iPads in class. This will provide students with equal advantages in their educational experience.

Burr and Burton Academy's Educational Technology Team has worked long and hard to raise funds and make the transition to iPads as easy as possible.

They received money from sending towns to start off fund-raising to provide the iPads; a set monetary goal has yet to be officially determined. With around 700 iPads circulating the school, the cost would be significant, but Burr and Burton has developed a special arrangement to lease these iPads from Apple. Drescher is confident in Burr and Burton Academy's plan.

"The state has had good success with iPad introductions," says Drescher.

Kevin Morrison, one of four leaders of the Educational Technology Team, is one of the many teachers that have been "biting for this for a number of years," he said. Teachers are excited to experiment with different educational apps, presentation formats, and ways to create classroom discussion, he added.

To formulate this decision, members of the Educational Technology Team visited schools in various states and had frequent meetings. They examined different types of technology being used in many different ways among students.

The Educational Technology Team has also established training days for students and teachers to learn how to use iPads responsibly and effectively.

"Each step of the way, we're just going to get better and better at using this device for the purposes of education" says Tashjian.

Burr and Burton Academy's headmaster Mark Tashjian believes in a smooth, easy transition to iPads.

"I would say we have to do two things. One, we try very hard to foresee any problems or issues that might arise. And number two, we recognize that as a community, we need to learn together," said Tashjian.

Problems might include students not having a wireless connection or if a student breaks an iPad.

But Burr and Burton Academy has solved such problems already, according to Morrison.

"We did a survey back in January, and 97 percent of the 550 students surveyed had wireless connection," says Morrison. The educational technology team is also ready to recommend affordable modems for homes without a wireless connection.

Considering the risk of broken iPads, Burr and Burton Academy will provide insurance that will cover damages. The iPad will then be replaced or sent to be serviced. The Educational Technology Team also hopes to set up an FAQ page on their website, where students can communicate with a technologically experienced teacher or student about their problems.

But, Tashjian does not want the school to become entirely technologically communicative. "I think that a critical hallmark of this school is the primacy of rapport: the human connections that we all have," says Tashjian.

Although, with the iPads, he hopes to provide students with a better access of a world of knowledge, enhance many aspects of the school, and synchronize students to facilitate group work and academic excellence. Apps will also serve as critical ways to type, print, and display work online.

The transition to iPads won't be so simple; Tashjian worries that students may misuse their technology on campus. When regarding mischievous misuse (texting, inappropriate content, etc.), Tashjian hopes to pursue such problems as a community wide effort.

"There are going to be bumps in the road, there are going to be hiccups, but we need to work together to become an iPad school," says Tashjian. Katherine Walla is a student at Burr and Burton Academy.


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