Thereis lots of education news for Apple of late. The company scored a major super computer contract that will use 1,100 Power Mac G5s clustered together, and that deal was the subject of a BusinessWeek column this morning. We also reported this morning on two different Alaska school districts that have made major iBook purchases. The Chicago Sun-Times reported earlier this week on a similar program in a Chicago suburb school district.
The paper reports that the program is intended to put an iBook on the desk of every 4th, 5th, and 6th grade student in Schaumburgis School District 54 elementary schools. The program started last week with the delivery of some 1,735 iBooks. Equal amounts will be rolled in both the Spring and Fall of 2004, for a total of 5,205 iBooks. From the article:
Despite that excitement, there have been conflicting studies on computers and education, with some arguing that technology isnit a proven way to help kids learn, especially given how much it costs.
Lynne Rauch, District 54is superintendent, firmly believes her students will prove the critics wrong. A pilot iBook program the district ran in nine classrooms last year has her convinced that studentsi standardized test scores will improve because of the machines.
"Weire not in the age of slates, blackboards or pencils," Rauch said. "Even if you couldnit prove that this will improve student achievement, which we believe we can, youire at least becoming current with what the world is. That alone to me is powerful."
Beyond that, "the amount of writing a student can do typing on the laptop compared to handwriting is amazing. You become a good writer the more you write."
The aim is to introduce students to laptops as early as they can grasp the technology, and steer them toward nonfiction via the Internet when those age groups typically shy from that type of reading.
The article also reports that Henrico County, Virginia high schools recently reported their highest SAT scores ever, two years into a program in that countyis school district put iBooks on every studentis desk. Thereis more information in the full article, which we recommend as an interesting read.