Come fall orientation at Justin-Siena High School, every student will be issued an iPad, allowing digital textbooks to replace their paper books in coming years.
Each iPad will come with a charger, earbuds, a manual and an iPad cover. Students will be responsible for purchasing applications, or apps. Justin-Siena will offer a discount on some required apps for specific courses, according to school officials.
Students at the private Catholic school say one of the apps they’re most excited about is the “Notability” program, which can record a lecture and transcribe what’s been said into text form.
Sixteen-year-old Luis Espino has never owned an iPad. Espino currently has six or seven textbooks for his classes and said he is looking forward to carrying a lighter backpack.
Vida Jaffe, 16, also is excited about having fewer books. Jaffe said the weight of her textbooks has caused her back problems.
“I’ve weighed my backpack before,” Jaffe said. “It was 19 pounds.”
One of the long-term goals of the program is to eliminate the need for textbooks and eventually have all required texts in electronic format.
Although the devices present a “learning curve” for those less familiar with the technology, Principal Noel Hesser said there’s a “buzz” and “excitement” among the faculty.
“The excitement begins to grow as you see the possibilities,” Hesser said.
Religious studies teacher Andy Hodges said iPads are an excellent tool for creating “differentiated instruction,” or different ways to get students engaged.
Hodges added he’s looking forward to being able to stay in the classroom instead of trekking his students to the computer lab.
“Having to leave the classroom to use computers — hopefully, that will be somewhat extinct,” Hodges said.
Justin-Siena President Robert Jordan, who also teaches a public speaking class, hopes to have students use the iPads to digitally record their speeches so they can analyze their own performances.
The school initially considered a “bring-your-own-device” program, but decided the benefits were greater in having school-issued iPads, Jordan said.
Justin-Siena currently has about 650 students enrolled, one-third of whom receive tuition assistance. Not every student can afford their own device, so providing iPads ensures equal access for all students, Jordan said.
The iPads also provide consistency so that every student and teacher is using the same device and is able to access the same apps. Additionally, repair and replacement will be easier, school officials said.
“In general, iPads do not break unless the touchscreen breaks,” according to a prepared statement from the school. “There are virtually no maintenance issues.”
If a student damages, loses, or has his or her iPad stolen, the family will be responsible for all costs related to repairs or replacement.
School officials said they do not know the exact cost of replacing the iPads, because insurance details are still being worked out.
The cost for the iPads will be included in student tuition, which is currently $14,000. The school has not announced next year’s tuition, but the increase will be no more than it has been in previous years, Jordan said.
Justin-Siena will acquire the iPads as part of a two-year leasing program.
A freshman, for example, would have an iPad for two years, turn it in for a new one to use in the remaining two years, and then turn that one in prior to graduation, according to school officials.
The two-year program also allows the school to evaluate new technologies and replace devices, if necessary.
“This school will remain committed to always moving forward,” Jordan said. “The world is changing all the time, and education needs to change with it.”