JOPLIN, Mo. —
Students' physical loads may get lighter as school districts expand the use of iPads or other tablet PCs, but the burdens may get heavier.
Joplin eighth-graders will receive iPads as part of their curriculum this year, said Klista Rader, director of information and implementation technology for Joplin Schools. As part of a preparation program for receiving laptops upon graduation into high school, district eighth-graders will use the tablet PCs for school assignments.
The devices are part of participation in a program called Project Red, which teaches students about using technology in real-life situations. The district spent almost $175,000 on tablet PCs for the program.
"We find that when they go into high school, they are struggling with all the changes," Rader said. "On top of that, there are no textbooks in high school, because of the laptops. So we wanted to provide something to help ease students into that transition."
Joplin students and parents will get introduced to the iPads during an open house on Aug. 20. And parents will be a big part of making sure that students are taking care of the expensive, fragile pieces of equipment.
In addition to iPads, each student will receive a rubberized case that should protect the device from most accidents.
"We have tested the cases to make sure they can sustain drops, or if they get stepped on," Rader said. "Still, it's not 100 percent. Kids will be taught to carry them in backpacks and other safety things."
The cases completely surround the device, and students will be told to never remove the case, even for cleaning purposes.
If a student in any district is issued a device without a case, then one should be purchased as soon as possible. A case can be an effective insurance policy that protects the device from bumps and drops.