iPads have been a hot commodity over the past few years, and the Lawrence school district has jumped on board. District officials have bought 621 iPads and are looking to purchase more.
Julie Boyle, school district spokeswoman, said the iPads are used by students, teachers and administrators.
Meaghan Goodman, a speech-language pathologist for the district, used iPads last year to help her students — preschool to fifth grade — communicate.
“It’s really great because it allows you to work with the whole spectrum of speech disorders,” she said.
She also said the technology helps motivate students.
“They loved the iPad,” she said. “They loved the cool factor of it; they look forward to speech therapy. When they see me coming in to class, they are like, ‘Oh yes, she’s got the iPad.’”
Lawrence schools have 11,000 students and 1,750 staff members, so a purchase of 621 iPads might appear modest. Especially compared with other Kansas school districts, such as Garden City, which recently decided to purchase and lease 2,330 iPads for all high school students and teachers.
The Lawrence school district has received help to shoulder the costs of its purchases. Boyle said the district received a grant with Boys and Girls Club of America to purchase 235 iPads.
The Lawrence Schools Foundation, a nonprofit fundraising group, will allocate $16,838 to the Lawrence school district next year for the purchase of iPads for iPad-related projects.
“If they propose a great project or program and they want to implement it to enrich the education of their students and it includes an iPad, it does seem innovative to us,” said Susan Esau, executive director of the group. She added that iPads seemed so innovative that the group decided to allocate an extra $10,000 for the district to purchase more iPads.
However, with innovation comes the unknown. While iPad educational success stories abound, Kansas University education curriculum departmental chairman Steven H. White said little scholarly evidence exists on iPads in the classroom. He, with the help of KU education students and other professors, plans to study how useful iPads can be when applied to math, reading, science, English and social studies.
White said he was interested in seeing whether iPads improved student learning by providing a more familiar technological element for children who grew up in the age of the Xbox and Facebook.
“I have heard kids say, ‘this is the way I like to learn.’ Using an iPad might be a way to deliver information in a way they are used to,” he said.