updated 01:07 am EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
Program will also include 1,000 MacBook models, rise to $8 million per year
Even as questions arise about the LA Unified School District's handling of its botched and now-abandoned iPad program, Apple continues to win school districts over to the tablet. The St. Paul School District in Minnesota is launching a program that will offer tens of thousands of iPads to students in a total of 61 schools over time, with an initial rollout to 37 schools in the city. The district is leasing the equipment from Apple, which includes up to 1,000 unspecified MacBook models.
"As educators, we have the luxury of whether to use the tool or not," said Hamline Elementary Principal Craig Anderson in an article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "But kids are not going to have the option of living in a world that doesn't use technology." The schools are going to focus on "core apps" such as Apple's own iWork suite (Pages, Numbers, and Keynote), material from iTunes U, iBooks and iMovie. Third party image editing app Skitch and classroom management system Socrative will also be deployed.
The initial rollout to the 37 schools will cost the district $5.7 million per year, growing to $8 million a year when all 61 schools are on board. Presumably, the leasing option allows for routine replacement of iPad models after a period of time. St. Paul school officials have likened the importance of the iPads as learning tools to that of the pencil, as an absolute requirement for modern education. A grant from Verizon was used to help pay for the cost of the program.
The inclusion of MacBooks (presumably MacBook Air) units in the deal may be an acknowledgement on Apple's part that older students become increasingly dependent on keyboards and increased computing power as they get older, a point that has caused some school districts to re-evaluate the use of iPads in higher grade levels. Apple currently has about 90 percent share of the education tablet market, notes AppleInsider.