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The Kirkwood Call

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Whines echo through the classroom as students are instructed to take out their iPads. Immediately, hands raise with technology issues and a long line begins to form at the iPad Help Center.

The current KSD iPads will not be updated to the newest software because of their age, which causes problems with storage and speed. Although the technology department is aware of this issue, there are obstacles to getting new devices, such as money.

“Obviously, if we are using old technology, it’s not going to work forever,” Eric Zigler, KHS technology specialist, said. “It would be like if we were still using typewriters. Typewriters are not going to work today. We are actively exploring to try and find a solution [even] if that means getting new iPads or something else. We are certainly open to the idea, provided that we can make it happen.”

In August 2012, KSD teachers received iPads in preparation for the potential iPad program, and as of January 2015, every grade in KSD (K-12) had access to the iPad minis. According to Zigler, students were supposed to have new iPads this year, but the budget cuts did not allow for that and the district didn’t want bad press. According to Dr. Michael Gavin, assistant principal, there is a defined amount of money from property taxes given to KSD each year to be spent on technology.

“What needs to be done in the future is that we [should] make sure that we involve and ask teachers and students what their needs are and understand where we are going curricularly in different courses,” Gavin said. “We’ll also need to have a realistic idea of how much money we have.”

KSD has a one-to-one ratio program, where each student gets their own technology device. According to Jessica Vehlewald, head of the office of professional development and supervision, the technology department is reaching out to other high schools with one-to-one programs in the area to see how they operate with different devices.

“We will look at the overlaps [between curricular needs] and see what device best suits that,” Vehlewald said. “And that doesn’t mean that [students] would have multiple devices, but we need to make sure we get the best bang for our buck. We have heard over and over again from kids and teachers that our current iPads don’t have the capacity for what is needed in the classroom. We don’t want a purchase without thinking about that.”

KSD technology department is looking into if the district would be able to trade in the iPads for a different technology tool instead, such as laptops, according to Vehlewald. They are looking at different avenues in regards to elementary, middle school and high school and whether each level should have something different.

“At this point, I have seen iPads limiting students when it comes to some of the functionality that they need in order to be successful in their classes,” Vehlewald said. “But, then again, I’ve been in some classes where there’s been phenomenal use of the iPads. The technology should support the learning, but the technology shouldn’t drive the learning. Technology should enhance and enrich it, and when there’s obstacles, it creates a crack in that opportunity to learn.”

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