updated 07:30 pm EDT, Fri April 8, 2011
Teachers saw 'remarkable' progress using iPads
Young students in Auburn, Maine will be using cutting edge technology right from the start of their school experience: the district has bought 285 iPad 2s to use for each kindergartner and teacher in the classrooms. The program will begin as a pilot project in May with a full rollout at the beginning of the next school year in the fall.
The committee that governs schools in the district voted to spend about $200,000 on the iPads, which also covers insurance, educational software aimed at the appropriate age level, training and other program costs. The program will eventually serve all six elementary schools in the small community, who's total population was around 25,000 in the 2000 census. It is believed that this is the first time in Maine that iPads have been given to a whole grade level, though the state also has a very successful Mac-dominated laptop program for older students as well.
The idea began when teachers who owned iPad noticed a significant improvement in kindergartners -- who had previously had trouble learning the alphabet -- who were exposed to educational software on the iPad. The device is seen as more portable and less expensive than laptop computers, and more appropriate for the age group's hands-on use. Officials hope to raise the literacy rates in the district from 62 to 90 percent within two years. A video of the local news report is below (Flash required).