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Alcorn Advancement: Teachers, students to get devices

Alcorn School District Board Member Daniel Cooper uses an iPad and Apple Pencil during a recent school board meeting. County high school teachers will receive this new technology next month, while each student should receive a iPad and keyboard in August 2019.

Staff photo by Zack Steen

By Zack Steen

zsteen@dailycorinthian.com

Technology in the Alcorn School District is about to reach new heights.

The Board of Education approved implementing Phase One of an 1:1 device iPad Education Initiative that will place iPads in the hands of teachers and students at Alcorn Central, Biggersville and Kossuth high schools.

"We don't need iPads because we are behind ..." said Travis Smith, school district curriculum, professional development and testing coordinator. "We need iPads because our students and staff deserve the opportunity to have the best materials to be successful."

Smith is spearheading the technology advancement project alongside district technology coordinator Dylan Lambert. The two are working a deal with Apple to lease 120 iPads with Apple Pencils with one device given to each certified high school instructor next month.

"If everything goes as planned, Phase One will see iPads with Apple Pencils provided to high school teachers before Christmas break," said Smith. "This will help the planning of professional development set to begin in January and will be ongoing through the spring semester."

Phase One's lease of iPads, Apple Pencils and keyboards will cost the district about $43,000 per year for three years. The money, according to Smith, is already budgeted. He said funds were originally set to replace laptops and desktops in classrooms, however a vote from the school board recently is allowing the monies to be used elsewhere.

"Phase One will also see high school classrooms transformed providing a more effective and interactive teaching and learning environment," said Smith.

A $50,000 federal programs grant will assist with this and allow the district to purchase Apple TVs and 55- to 60-inch flat screen TVs for classrooms. The addition of Canvas Learning Management System and the Apple Education suite will provide students and teachers with the best educational technology available, added Smith.

"Teacher development will be devoted to these new devices and how to use them in the classrooms. Teachers fully understanding these devices must happen before Phase Two launches," he said.

Phase Two will include the lease purchase of around 1,000 iPads and keyboards from Apple. Each high school student will receive an iPad at the beginning of the school year much like they currently receive text books. Students will be able to take home their issued iPads and use as needed. Security measures will be in place to safeguard student access.

Smith said like teachers, students and parents will receive training on how to use and take care of the devices.

Phase Two could begin as early as August 2019.

School board members are excited about the technology upgrade, and were recently given an upgrade of their own.

Laptops used by board members during board meetings have been replaced with iPads, Apple Pencils and keyboards.

Superintendent Larry B. Mitchell said such an iinitiative is long overdue.

"We must improve what we are doing. Our students deserve to have the best available resources to help them be successful no matter where their future takes them," said Mitchell. "This is an incredible step in the right direction for our school district."