Rural students get iPads

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The Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop School District is embracing the 21st century – as well as some state funds – to give every high school student an Apple iPad to use during the school year.

The tablet computers retail for about $500, according to the Mankato Free Press. GFW can afford the devices because of a one-time “consolidation incentive fund” from the state of about $200 per pupil. The incentive was awarded after the McLeod West School District consolidated into the GFW, Buffalo Lake-Hector and Glencoe-Silver Lake school districts. When paired with capital and technology upgrade funds, GFW was able to buy the tablets for $267,338.

The iPads “will vault the district onto the cutting edge of 21st century education,” according to the paper. Teachers have been tutored on how to create wiki pages, how to use applications and how to use the iPads in class. When the iPads were distributed to students, they were loaded with functions that include an app to allow students to read books and teachers to download books for class, an app that allows students to take class notes and several apps for files and presentations.

Students also have to agree to an iPad usage policy that forbids game-playing and app downloading without administrative approval. Students are also responsible for keeping the battery charged and preventing theft.

The Free Press said GFW High School Principal Jeff Bertrang told students that iPads usage will evolve  as students and teachers begin to realize their potential.

“There are things we can do with this iPad that will break the traditional walls of the classroom,” he told students. “We want to transition from what school was, to what school can be.”