A Startling Real-World Account of iPad Integration

What if your school had the means to purchase a piece of education technology for your classroom? What would you pick?

Given the choice, a school in the UK went right for the iPad (as you probably guessed from the title of this article). Why did they pick iPads? Because that’s what the students, faculty, staff, and parents all wanted to as fast as possible. They had the option to have netbooks, laptops, and other education technology but it was iPads all the way.

So what happened after the iPads were brought to the Longfield Academy in Kent? Quite simply, uproar. So much uproar that there was even “hostile media coverage.” Thanks to MJO, we have an intimate look at the entire iPad integration:

Longfield, in Kent, gets its first official mention in records in the Domesday Book and in Saxon Charters more than a thousand years ago. But in 2011 it has been setting new standards for learning and teaching with technologies.

The Longfield Academy for Arts and Sciences is thought to be the first school to offer iPads to all its learners and staff – and, even more unusual, there’s no Microsoft. And the decision wasn’t made by Apple-oriented ICT advisers. It was based on consulting the school community – learners, staff and parents.

Sets of laptops, netbooks and iPads had been made available to the Longfield community and the response was overwhelming following two packed parent meetings – they wanted iPads.

The move was so radical that it was immediately misinterpreted and even attracted hostile media coverage claiming that parents were being burdened with unnecessary expense. Until it was revealed that Longfield’s decision had been based on a vision for learning that required mobile technology – with massive potential savings on printing and publications – and that the school had been working closely with the e-Learning Foundation to make sure that no learners were excluded.

All students can have an iPad for use at school and at home, and initially that meant about 500 of them. There are currently about 900 students in the school and that number will rise to 1,100. It’s a classic e-Learning Foundation equity scheme so it also includes families on very low incomes as well the better off. The iPad2s cost around £16 per month over three years and the cash comes from a mix of voluntary parental contributions, school funding and e-Learning Foundation mediated support.

“The programme is much more than just an ‘iPad scheme, says e-Learning Foundation vhief executive Valerie Thompson. “It is the result of a big vision from the school’s senior management team, with the iPads being properly integrated with all the other technology in use across the school.

“Not only has it been embraced by all the teachers, but the programme also enjoys good support from parents. More than 90 per cent of families are contributing and a small grant from the e-Learning Foundation has meant that it really is 100 per cent inclusive.

“While there is excitement around the pupils getting their iPads, the focus is very much on learning. The devices are hugely motivational in getting children to engage with their education in a different way.

“It is this sort of innovation which is helping the children at Longfield to achieve their full potential and succeed.  Without programmes like this, disadvantaged children, who are more likely to need extra support, miss out and risk falling further behind.

“This is a financially sustainable approach so there is no reason why more schools in the country can’t adopt a similar approach and achieve the same buzz.”

6 Comments

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  6. Ged O'Donnell

    June 10, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    As the Principal of Montlieu Academy of Technology a 1:1 IPad2 Elementary School in High Point NC I can connect with alot in this article. Our community has embraced the initiative and this has been an essential factor to its success. The 14% increase on our State End of Grade test scores reflects how successful our teachers were infusing the IPads into the Curriculum.