Board Approves Recommendation on Student Mobile Device
Five years after rolling out its Student Mobile Device Initiative that provided an iPad for every student in the District, Eanes ISD has announced it will upgrade to an iPad Air 2 moving forward. The District’s Digital Learning Task Force conducted 600 hours of meetings, symposiums, site visits, focus groups and presentations as well as collected more than 6,000 survey responses, culminating in the recommendation to the Eanes ISD Board of Trustees at the February 23 meeting, followed by the Board’s approval of the Task Force’s recommendation at the March 8 meeting.
“Parents, community members, students and staff participated in this process to make the most informed decision possible for the future learning of our students,” said Superintendent Dr. Tom Leonard. “Regardless of the device, our students will always participate in rigorous and relevant instruction, but the opportunities that a mobile device can bring to instruction are exciting and endless.”
The Task Force chose the 64GB iPad Air 2, based on its flexibility, best support model, as well as ease of integration. The device will be implemented across grade levels, K-12.
“Students and staff will have a model of iPad that runs 12 times faster, holds four times as much memory and now allows for split-screen multitasking, which was important to those surveyed,” said Carl Hooker, Director of Innovative & Digital Learning. “This also honors the work of many teachers who have utilized the iPad to improve student learning in their classrooms for the past four to five years and reinforces our work on the horizontal and vertical alignment of tools and curriculum within our district.”
After hearing feedback from focus groups and surveys on the need for a physical keyboard, the Task Force also recommended adding keyboard cases or plug-in keyboards, based on grade level. For high school students in particular, the keyboard cases provide versatility in that they allow for full keyboarding on a physical keyboard but also swivel into both kiosk and full tablet modes.
The Task Force also made the recommendation to implement an Eanes ISD App Store, which will limit apps that students can download on district-issued devices, and allows teachers control in the classroom and better restrictions outside of the classroom. The recommendation is based on feedback from parents, teachers and administrators, who stressed a desire to increase limits and restrictions on devices.
At the March 8 meeting, the Eanes ISD Board approved the purchase of iPads using bond funds. Last May, the Eanes ISD community passed a $52.5 million bond which included $5.041 million towards the Student Mobile Device Initiative. The bond funds will be used for devices, cases, keyboards, apps, additional technology needed for the initiative, and management software. The District plans to sell the current iPad 2 inventory.