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Technology & Innovation

JUNE 22 - St. Andrews Leaps Forward on Technology; Every Student Will Have an iPad

By Lou Phelps

JUNE 22, 2010 - In the business of private school education, and staying on top of the interests of parents, students and faculty, St. Andrew’s School announced today that the school will invest in an Apple iPad for every student and teacher, from pre-k through grade 12, as well as add a number of technology enhancements to the school.

“It has been said that the best way to prepare students for the future is to equip them to invent it,” said the school’s Head of School, Gil Webb, at a press conference today.

Webb estimates that St. Andrews will invest $300,000 in the new program, funded through the school’s capital fund and several other funding sources. The cost of the program will not be added to current tuition rates. Apple estimates that the total annual cost per student, including technology support, is approximately $325.00 annually.

The school also hopes to raise $100,000 through philanthropy and will be applying for various grants.  Bottomline: St. Andrew’s will be one of the few schools in the United States where every student has an iPad for educational purposes.

“At St. Andrew’s we have a strong tradition of preparing our students for college and the global economy. Our alums have consistently told us that they have been well prepared for the academic and social challenges of college, and at St. Andrew’s we pride ourselves on always striving to provide our students with the tools and skills necessary to compete in the 21st century,” said Webb.

“This plan will include strengthening our technology infrastructure to include features such as wireless networking, interactive white board devices and digital projectors. At the core of this educational initiative is a one-to-one learning environment for students in Pre Kindergarten through the 12th Grade,” he added, by providing each with an iPad. The iPad will allow students to learn at their own pace, in many instances, Webb said after the press conference.

Webb said that the school’s teachers had been asking for improvements in technology, “and we decided to go in this direction,” he explained. All faculty will receive extensive training in August, prior to the start of the school year.

Each St. Andrew’s student will have access to an iPad, “allowing them to explore, discover, invent and stay connected – in and out of the classroom. With our faculty’s guidance, our students will be able to learn through an enhanced curriculum that inspires them to collaborate, explore and invent. The Apple iPad will extend our student’s learning opportunities beyond the school day and will be another tool for the student to use to as they develop the skill sets necessary for the 21st century,” he added.

Within two weeks of the start of the school year, all but the youngest students will be able to take the iPad home every day.

Webb concluded by saying, “We are serious about education at St. Andrew’s, and we intend to take the lead in education by embarking on this ambitious plan that will provide our students with the skills and ability necessary to become 21st century learners and leaders. Our goal remains as it always has been: to prepare our students for success in their studies and their future.”

Board of Trustees member Andy Powers was at the announcement, a parent of three students at St. Andrew’s, and said that he bought an iPad when the board was presented with the concept. His kids love it, and he believes the devices, “will allow students to learn at their own pace.”

St. Andrew’s is using iTech for Business, a Savannah company, for it’s general technology support including maintaining its network, wifi and Web site.  Owner George Powers said today that his employees are currently going through Apple iPad certification to be able to support the school’s new initiative.

It’s an exciting new direction for St. Andrew’s, a school with approximately 500 students.  The idea grew out of St. Andrew’s recently completed SACS/SAIS accreditation process this past year, “and through that process it was recommended that we enhance the use of technology in the classroom. After many months of research, the current plan came together. Our teachers have definitely been the driving force for this much needed one-to-one learning plan,” said Webb.

He believes the initiative will transform teaching and learning in and out of the classroom. “We will continue to use teaching methods that are currently working for our students. We will always put the curriculum first and then determine how the technology can support a particular program of study,” he added.  

A major benefit will be reduction in the use of paper by teachers, and the time spent distributing materials, lesson plans and various educational materials.  Much of that kind of important information will be given to the students on their iPad.  Digital textbooks will also be in use in some cases, further cutting the school’s costs, though not all texts are currently available digitally, and printed texts are valuable in many cases.

The iPads will be loaned by the school to the student, and returned at the end of the school year, with a plan to upgrade the school’s technology every three years.  Parents are going to be offered insurance for the devices.

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