Some brand new technology awaits Cape Henlopen High School students when they head back to school this fall.
In its iCape initiative, every student at the high school will receive a new iPad for school use, said Michael Kelley, director of curriculum and instruction.
“The question is not why go mobile, but when and how,” he said.
Kelley said he expects students will be given their iPads by the end of September, as technology specialists continue to process 1,500 iPads outfitting them with protective cases.
Students will be given 16 GB models while teacher models will have 32 GB.
“The iPads will not replace textbooks, at least not right away,” Kelley said.
Students will be able to access class content through their iPads and communicate with their teachers through Schoology – a learning management and communication system similar to Facebook. Appropriate controls will be in place to make sure the iPads are used for classwork; policy governing use to ensure students use the new technology for educational purposes and not personal social networking is also in the works, Kelley said.
Cape may be the first district in Sussex County to provide iPads to each of its students, but not in the state, Kelley said. Howard High School, a vocational-technical school in Wilmington, is in its third year of offering iPads to students, he said.
Cape consulted with Howard to develop Cape's iPad policis. The 11-page handbook requires parent and student signatures before a student is issued an iPad. By signing, both parent and student agree the student will abide by the rules and appropriate use of the iPad.
This is particularly important for students using their iPads at home because home networks do not have the same Internet protections that are in place at school.
“We want parents to establish protocols for students using them at home,” Kelley said.
During school, Kelley said teachers and administrators will police use of the iPads to make sure they are handled and used correctly. If the protective case is missing, Kelley said, the iPad will be confiscated until the case is returned; educators also have the authority to inspect or check the contents of an iPad at any given moment.
Inappropriate material stored on the iPad will not be tolerated, Kelley said. This includes images of weapons, pornography or other sexually explicit pictures, offensive language and images of alcohol or drugs.
“Students can think of the iPad as their personal iPad just as they think of their textbook as their personal textbook,” Kelley said. “It's still the property of the district.”
Kelley said students should treat their iPads the same way they would treat a wallet or other valuable possessions: Don't leave them unattended.
The district spent $718,500 for the iPads, Kelley said; the district also updated its Wi-Fi service to provide uninterrupted iPad connections within the classrooms. Additionally, he said, Apple TV modules were purchased for each classroom to disseminate educational content. An estimated $200,000 a year is estimated for the cost of the Apple equipment, according to an earlier presentation.
Funding for the technology comes from a variety of sources: the district generates $350,000 a year through a technology match tax and another $100,000 from a state technology block grant. The district technology reserve is currently $2.5 million and there are other district discretionary funds that could be used, district documents show.
The district is working out details of an insurance plan for parents to purchase in the event their child's iPad is lost, stolen or broken. Cape's student resource officer will handle stolen iPads.
After notifying the officer that all Cape High students would be carrying around brand new iPads this year, Kelley said, “I told the SRO, and he was so happy that there would be 1,300 iPads around the school."
A replacement policy for missing equipment is also in the works, Kelley said. How much a student would be required to pay if something happens to the iPad would be part of the pending policy, he said.