In a bold move, the school district in Van Meter, Iowa has gone completely digital. This doesn’t mean they simply handed out some expensive computers and walked away…the school actually ditched traditional paper-based learning and is actively using the laptops in their new digital curriculum.
In the 2009-2010 school year, the district handed out laptops to all its seventh to twelfth grade students. The school district signed a four-year lease agreement with Apple to provide the students with Macbook laptops. The program costs about US$149,000 per year and is funded by the district’s Physical Plant and Equipment Levy (PPEL) and School Infrastructure Local Option (SILO) tax. It hopes to have the funds to extend this program to K-12 students by the 2012-2013 school year.
The response towards the program has been enthusiastic. School board member John Seefeld was “amazed at students’ attentiveness, how engaged they were and how they seemed to be learning better under the new format.”
Iowa Department of Education Director Jason Glass took a tour of the program and remarked that “after two years of exploring the capacity of the devices, the kids and teachers are learning and evolving in their own knowledge of how powerful new technology can be.”