-Why did you decide to begin using iPads?
Our vision is to be a premier school, which includes being on the cutting edge of new technology. In addition to introducing iPads into our classrooms, we’re in the process of converting our Library into an e-Library.
In 2009-2010, we started with 80 iPads in three classrooms. This year, in 2010-2011, we have 300 iPads in 18 classrooms, with more to come. In 2011-12, every sophomore through senior will receive an iPad, and incoming freshmen will receive an iPad2. Our plan is to have one-on-one iPads in the high school in 2011-2012, and one-on-one in the middle school in 2012-2013.
-What are some of the benefits of using iPads?
The 1.5 pound iPads are much lighter than textbooks--one iPad can replace 5 or 6 heavy books which can total 20 pounds or more in a student's backpack. The iPad2s are even lighter. They’re less expensive than buying sets of printed textbooks, especially with books that cost $50 to $100 each. They give us access online to selected websites that our students can use for research in their classes. There’s no wall between students and teachers like there is when you lift a laptop screen. The iPads encourage “green” stewardship of natural resources—they save trees used for making textbooks and they reduce the number of worksheets that are printed.
-How are you paying for them?
During the summer of 2010, we started a new program that rents our beautiful 100-acre campus to outside groups over the summer, and that has generated new income. We’re also using capital funds have been set aside for educational projects.
The other factor is that previously we’d buy full sets of paper textbooks each year for classroom use at $50 to $100 per book, but the electronic versions are about $35 each, so we’ll save thousands of dollars on our textbook purchases over time.
-What company/brand is supplying them?
We’re purchasing the iPads directly from Apple. They don’t offer an educational discount, but we do get a small discount for our quantity purchases.
-Are you afraid the kids will lose or break them?
We purchased covers for the iPads from Apple to protect them from damage. During summer school in 2010, we had a trial run where we let students take them home, and there was no problem. The kids are very careful with them. As far as losing them goes, each unit has a tracking feature which would allow us to locate it.
-What are parents (and kids) saying about them?
Our students love learning how to use the latest technology. Many of them are finding that that note-taking on a keyboard is easier for them than writing, and some of them like to record what the teacher is saying so they can review it later.
Parents and teachers appreciate them because the new technology and graphics are engaging for the students. Teachers have new access to photos, videos, daily newspapers, and resource materials, and the digital content works hand-in-hand with the texts. Practice problems can be done on the iPad with the correct answer being shown and explained if the student did it wrong. They also make it easier for teachers to use different approaches for different learning styles.
-What is Monte Vista's philosophy about technology?
We see a revolution happening in the way people learn. This generation of students has grown up with computers and they’re at home in a world where they get their information online. There will always be a place for printed books—just ask our English teachers—but we want our students to be prepared for a world where technology is always advancing. It’s part of our core value of Excellence.
Monte Vista Christian School is located in Watsonville, California. We have 800 students in grades 6-12; of those, 600 are in the high school, and 200 in the middle school.