updated 02:00 am EST, Sun January 29, 2012
State capital will buy 1,400 iPads in 2012
School districts in Madison, Wisconsin will be getting a total of 1,400 iPads this year, all of them paid for by Microsoft, reports the Wisconsin State Journal. The state will use a portion of the nearly $80 million it will receive from the tech giant to buy 600 iPads this spring and 800 more in the fall. The money comes from a decade-old settlement of a lawsuit Wisconsin and 18 other states filed, alleging Microsoft routinely overcharged for software.
The class-action cases were related to the well-known 1998 Department of Justice lawsuit against Microsoft for abuse of monopoly power, successfully charging the company with using its market position to harm competition through its efforts to destroy or undermine Netscape and other technologies. A total of 19 states filed suit, and 17 of the states eventually reached a settlement (Wisconsin got a total of $224 million, but most of it went directly to residents rather than to the state). The first set of iPads will be in place in 20 elementary schools, 10 middle schools and three high schools by mid-march.
Only about $700,000 of the $3.4 million that is Madison's share of the settlement money -- which works out to about $85 per student -- will be spent on iPads. Schools are allowed to purchase other kinds of technology, including laptops, projectors, smart boards and upgrades for existing equipment. After educational discounts, the iPads will cost the districts about $479 each. One school is planning to buy 105 iPads in a pilot program that will allocate one for each student in four classrooms, while other schools are buying just a few, primarily to help teachers with planning and record-keeping.
Tablets like the iPad are cheaper, more portable and easier to use, said district Director of Technical Services Bill Smojver. He also noted that Apple's recent announcements about textbooks being made available at lower costs through the iBooks application "a significant development." Deputy Superintendent Sue Abplanalp said Madison administrators were impressed with a recent pilot program in Chicago public schools that found that students are much more engaged in classrooms that use tablets. "We're very open to what technology is going to bring us next," she said.
The paper also noted that State Superintendent Tony Evers will be releasing a "statewide digital learning plan" that outlines how the state expects to deploy technology across all school districts in Wisconsin. An independent education consultant said her company had already worked with over 50 districts around the state to implement iPad-based teaching efforts. [via Wisconsin State Journal]