The teachers and students at Frement (CA) High School are some of the first beneficiaries of a Digital High School grant that allows the school to purchase more than 150 new computers as well as train faculty how to prepare their students for the 21st century.
That’s neat, but even neater is the fact that over 100 of the new computers are iBooks. Any of the school’s nearly 100 teachers can check out the iBook labs and wheel them in and out of classrooms. The iBooks, each equipped with AirPort technology, also provide wireless Internet access anywhere on campus.
“Our ultimate goal is to have every kid on a laptop within five years,” said Principal Pete Tuana in an
Apple Hot News story. One of the things Fremont is all about is how schools of the future should work, and that’s why the district, superintendent, and board have all embraced the notion of laptops for kids, he added.
“Before we bought the iBooks, we’d pack the kids up, take them to the library, get online there, come back to the classroom and work,” Tuana said. “Now the teacher can construct a lesson that takes advantage of wireless connectivity in the classroom. Students can do some research, examine primary source documents, and write about their findings without having that journey back and forth to the library.”
Another advantage of the mobile labs, says Tuana, is space. A lab with computers takes another room that can be used for instruction, he added.
“We have dedicated labs for specific skills like digital publishing, graphic design, and computer programming,” said Tuana. “But for other classes, we want to have flexibility of moving technology in and out of classrooms.”
The mobile iBook labs are used for English, social studies, math, and science. Each mobile lab is composed of 10 or 15 iBooks, each equipped with an AirPort card, and one AirPort Base station.
“The iBooks have been great,” biology teacher John McGee said. “We haven’t had enough money to buy the lab materials, and it’s really hectic trying to get that stuff set up. With the iBooks and wireless Internet access, we’ve been able to run biology simulations in class. The variety makes the course much more interesting for everybody. By using AirPort wireless technology, students can get unlimited, easy access to the Internet, to email, and to assignments and information stored on school networks.”
Physiology teacher Laurie Turner is incorporating Web-based simulations and treasure hunts through interactive Web sites on the nervous system into her lessons. She prefers the iBooks because “the Mac platform is user friendly, and that’s what we need.”
As far as platform technology goes, Tuana told Apple Hot News, “We give students a choice. It’s not the difference between a pencil and a pen, or between a PC and a Mac. It’s what allows you to be an efficient user of the tool. And in many cases, the Mac is the most efficient tool for kids and teachers.”