‘iNhancing education’ at WHS

The use of electronic devices such as iPads in schools isn’t the wave of the future — it’s the here and now.
At Watertown-Mayer, for example, every student in the district uses an iPad to enhance his or her learning experience. Other schools, including Minnetonka, Lakeville North and South, Sibley East, GFW and others have embraced the use of iPads in the classroom. And starting this year, Waconia Public Schools entered the fray by incorporating the use of iPads in all of its sophomore biology classes at the high school.
“We are not at the front edge of this. A lot of districts are doing this across the nation,” noted Jeff Jeska, the Director of Technology for Waconia Public Schools. “We’re being very careful how we’re approaching this. We want to keep our flexibility and make good choices with our resources.”
So far, the effort appears to be paying off. According to Jeska, the district has received generally positive feedback from student and parent surveys regarding the iPad initiative. At Waconia, each member of the sophomore class of approximately 250 students will have used an iPad during biology class by the end of the year. At any one time, about 170 to 180 sophomores are using the iPads for their biology classes.
It’s not just Waconia students who are using the technology — about 240 staff members (about 80 to 85 percent of staff members) throughout the district are using iPads in their classrooms.
Jeska said those staff members voluntarily chose to receive an iPad.
“We wanted people to have them in their hands who really wanted to incorporate them into their classrooms,” said Jeska, who noted that iPad use has actually been used in the district on a small level for several years. “iPads are not totally new to us. We’ve had some iPads in the district for a number of years, mainly in special education, where they’ve addressed certain accessibility pieces for special needs students.”
For example, if a student has a speaking disability, the iPad has an application that verbalizes typed words, allowing the student to better communicate with others. Whatever the use, it’s clear that the presence of iPads and/or similar devices in the classroom are offering a number of benefits to students and staff.

For more, see the March 21, 2013 edition of the Waconia Patriot.

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