By CHERIL VERNON
Palestine Independent School District’s educational technology department rolled out iPads to Palestine High School students during its fourth mobile device “boot camp” for students and parents Tuesday.
After attending the “boot camp” where PISD Technology Integration Specialist Summer Alcauter explained the PISD’s mobile device handbook guidelines to parents and students, they each signed the mobile device agreements and paid the $25 usage fee to receive the assigned iPad.
“Our goals is for all students to have their iPads on the first day of school,” District Educational Technology Facilitator Shannon Leisure told the Herald-Press.
Additional “boot camps” will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday and 10 a.m. Saturday in the PHS auditorium.
The idea behind PISD’s “Learning 24/7” program is for every student in grades 9-12 to have access to their own iPad at any time. Wireless Internet access is provided by Palestine ISD on the high school campus, as well as outside the building in the student parking lot. As soon as the student logs into the campus network, Internet access is available. Students also may access the Internet using personal Internet connectivity at home or anywhere WIFI is available.
“Palestine ISD is really excited about this opportunity for students. Our vision is for the students to have their iPads at any time no matter where to have access to learning real world skills as much as they can,” Alcauter explained after the “boot camp.”
PISD is giving out 850 iPads to students with freshman and sophomores mostly receiving gray-colored iPad Minis and the juniors and seniors receiving the slightly larger black iPad 2s.
“The teachers are excited. Some have been making movie trailers on their iPads to show off to students on the first day,” Alcauter said. “There are a lot of interactive apps that can be used in the classroom from quizzing students to virtual visits to other countries, or something as simple as taking notes or using the calculator.”
By the end of November, PISD plans to roll out iPads to Palestine Middle School students. By next year, the district hopes to start providing iPads to the elementary students so eventually all students in grades K-12 have an iPad.
PHS junior Bennett Johnson, 17, and his mother, Erica Johnson, attended Tuesday’s boot camp.
“I think it will be better than carrying around books,” Bennett Johnson said.
His mother added, “I think it will be great for the students. There are so many things they can be used for. If they need to ask the teacher a question, they can do it right there on the iPad.”
PHS junior Brittany Collins, 17, said it was a lot of work to get the iPad as far as attending the “boot camp,” but thinks it will be “pretty cool” to have an iPad she can use 24/7 in and out of school.
“I think it will save us a lot of paper and books that we won’t have to carry around,” Collins said.
During the “boot camp,” parents and students learned about their liabilities, responsibilities and conditions for using the Internet.
For example, parents are responsible for monitoring their student’s use of the mobile device while not at school. Students are responsible for their device whether at home or at school and must bring it to school every day.
Information about Internet safety and cyberbullying also were discussed as part of the mobile device handbook information.
“If it’s inappropriate at school, it’s inappropriate at home,” Alcauter said regarding the Internet filter at the school campus.
All of the iPads are required to stay in their Otterbox (iPad case) at all times for insurance purposes as well, she explained.
Parents and students also were provided with information about estimated repair/replacement costs in case of a broken screen or other damage and what to do in case a mobile device was lost or stolen.
For more information about the mobile device “boot camps,” call PHS at 903-731-8005.