Writing for the
, Eleanor Chute
followed the progress of a pilot program
in Pa.’s Quaker Valley to outfit about 1,600 students in grades 3 through 12 with Apple iBooks. The program has hit a few snags, but is yielding positive feedback from school officials and students.
“Reaching that goal turned out to be tougher than imagined. State funding came late, the laptops broke down frequently, repairs took a long time, and students and their families did things with the computer they weren’t supposed to do,” she said.
On the other hand, administrators are impressed with how quickly the iBook use has been incorporated into learning, both on the parts of students and teachers.
Chief researcher for the project’s evaluation Harry Faulk, an adjunct professor at Carnegie Mellon University, called the progress made with the iBooks thus far “unbelievable,” and said that students would come to class and immediately open their computers.
Unfortunately, there have been more than 300 cases of laptop repairs so far — some of these may have been prevented with the mandatory issuing of carrying cases, which Chute noted won’t be available until this coming academic year. Students also installed their software in violation of the school district’s policy. The district may relax its software installation policy this year, within reason.
The school district has included teachers in the process, as well, offering them technology training to help bring them up to speed. And such training is also mandatory for students and parents or guardians alike before they’re assigned an iBook.
One student interviewed by Chute said the iBooks helped to change education. “It gave us unlimited resources at our hands. We had basically anything we could need,” he said.