Two years ago, high school students in the Mansfield school district each received an iPad to use for homework and classwork. Next spring, middle school students will get one, too.
On Oct. 28, trustees unanimously agreed to spend $2.25 million to buy 5,174 iPad Mini 2 devices for seventh- and eighth-graders in the district’s six middle schools. The cost includes OtterBox protective cases and Absolute Mobile Theft Management, a service for mobile devices, said Abby Cloud, director of communications and marketing for the district.
“If an iPad is reported missing, they can put it in a national database to help law enforcement recover it,” Cloud said.
The price does not include iPads for middle school teachers, who already have been issued the devices, Cloud said.
In 2012, the Mansfield school district purchased 10,600 iPads for the district’s 9,000 high school students, 500 teachers and some spares for $6.5 million.
Last spring, the district tested how well the middle schoolers would do with the technology in a pilot survey with eighth-graders at Brooks Wester Middle School.
“They really rose to the occasion as far as being responsible,” said Brooks Wester Principal Andrea Hensley. “I think a lot of people questioned if they would be conscientious enough. They took very good care of them.”
And they used them, Hensley said.
“Teachers are always wondering if the kids are getting it,” she said. “This was a good way to do a quick survey. There are apps that let the students compete to get an answer. They can do it anonymously so they can be honest. They are having fun because it’s set up like a game.”
Other students chose to use the iPads for their interactive notebooks instead of paper.
“It makes a lot of learning come to life,” Hensley said.
Some parents did express reservations about whether their students should have the devices, she said.
“Once we met with parents and shared the parental controls, it made them so much more comfortable,” Hensley said. “Ninety percent participated, and some had their own iPads.”
The Brooks Wester teachers agreed to be part of the survey again this fall, but instead they will have to wait until spring when seventh- and eighth-graders will all get iPad Minis.
“They were ready, willing and able to do it again, because we love them so much,” Hensley said. “We’re missing them. Our eight-grade teachers got used to using them.”