Hillsborough Students to Use Tablets in Class
About 450 students will be part of second phase of district's pilot technology program.
A program that may eventually give every student in grades 5-12 a tablet computer will be gaining steam in the 2012-13 school year.
About 10 percent of Hillsborough students in those grades will be given either iPads or Chromebooks in the new school year as a pilot program enters its second phase, Superintendent of Schools Jorden Schiff said at Monday’s Board of Education meeting.
This year, in the program’s first phase, students in algebra classes at the high school and seventh grade were given the tablets. Next year, the program will be expanded at the high and middle schools and started in fifth grade at Auten Road Intermediate School.
The goal is to equip every student in grades 5-12 with a tablet over four years, Schiff said.
One of the interesting findings of the pilot program this year, the superintendent said, is that students were using the tablets as an organizational tool and using them for subjects other than algebra, Schiff said.
Another advantage of the tablets, he said, is that they allow “asynchronous” learning at any time of the day because the material is Internet-based.
The tablets also allow for the classroom walls to be torn down and learning could become globalized, according to Lisa M. Atunes, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction.
The curriculum will be written to utilize the technology, Atunes said.
Atunes also said the tablets help special education students in a number ways. The tablets help students with their development of fine motor skills, helps them "find their voice," and increases socialization."
"They can now be just like the cool kids," Atunes said.
Karen Bingert, principal of Hillsborough High School, said next year the program will be expanded to 10 new courses at the school, with half the students in those courses receiving iPads ands the other half receiving Chromebooks. The courses will cover much of the spectrum at the high school, including English, social studies science, math, world language and special education, she said.
“This will give the students all the tools they need all the time,’’ she said.
She emphasized that the tablet’s role as an organizational tool and as a communication device, allowing students to receive emails. She also said they would allow students to do their schoolwork at any time during a busy schedule of afterschool activities.
About 240 students at the high school will be receiving the tablets, Bingert said.
At the middle school, principal Joseph Trybulski said, about 120 seventh-graders will be receiving the tablets.
“Kids can find their own resources at lightning speed,” Trybulski said, adding that, like at the school, the tablets will be used across the curriculum.
At Auten Road Intermediate School, about 100 fifth-graders will be getting the tablets, Vice Principal Steve Kerrigan said. Teachers will stress computer etiquette and other protocols in an age-appropriate way, he said.
Kerrigan said there will also be a parent advisory council not only to inform parents about the program, but also to gather their feedback. Kerrigan said it will be a forum for “open dialogue.”
Schiff said this phase of the program will cost $340,000; that money was included in the budget approved by voters in April.
If the pilot programs are successful, then the district will consider whether to implement the program fully, Schiff said. At that time, the board will decide whether to buy or lease the tablets or explore other funding options, the superintendent said.
“We’re very excited,” Schiff said.