The New Trier High School Mobile Learning Initiative, a program where students are equipped with iPads to use in certain courses, is in its first year at NTHS and the reception has been very positive so far, according to an update delivered at Tuesday’s school board meeting.
There are currently 25 teachers teaching 20 courses as a part of the program, reaching 650 students. In the 2013-14 school year, those numbers will rise to over 60 teachers in the program, teaching 40 courses to 2,300 students. Full implementation is expected for the 2014-15 school year, where the remaining 350 teachers will learn about teaching with the iPads from the 60 previously-trained teachers.
The Mobile Learning Initiative courses currently includes biology, environmental geosciences, anatomy, physics, financial management, sports medicine, Chinese, French, English, American studies, sociology and psychology.
The primary concern for some remains how to fund the program.
The iPads, including the apps required for the classes and a cover, are being sold at $620 each. There are several options for parents to fund the device, including purchasing, leasing to purchase or bringing your own device.
There will also be an option for the district to subsidize the devices, which would range from $0 to $320 per student.
In the 2013-14 school year, the total cost to the school would be $1,116,000 before the iPads are purchased by students, with the maximum district subsidy being $576,000.
In the 2014-15 school year, with the program expanding by 1,950 students, the iPads will cost the school $1,209,000, with a maximum subsidy of $624,000.
“There’s no question that the iPad is the right thing to do,” School Board member John Myefski said. “I think something that I personally would like us to do is subsidize as much as we could. … It’s a part of education and we as a district should do all we can to implement it.
“There’s no question that this is a great platform for learning, distributing e-Books and collaborative learning,” said Patrick O’Donoghue, School Board member. “But if parents are being asked to pay $600 extra at registration, I don’t think it will be warmly received.”
No decision was made at Tuesday’s meeting on how to subsidize the tablets for the program.