From old-school to high-tech: iPads replace textbooks

BECKLEY, W.Va. – Raleigh County students are going high-tech this year, becoming the first public school system in West Virginia to rely on iPads instead of text books. The program is called iRaleigh.

Mary Ann Foster, technology coordinator for Raleigh County Schools, said students in K-1 share iPads in the classroom, while second-grade students each have individual devices. Students in grades 3-12 each have an iPad they utilize in class and can take home.

“Parents have the option to opt out if they don’t want their students taking the iPad home,” Foster said, though the students must use them in class.

The school system decided to debut the iRaleigh program by uploading social studies curriculum onto the devices. All their reading and classwork, in that subject, will be on the iPad. They’ll still use text books for subjects like math, English and science.

Most students are very familiar with iPads, but parents not so much. That’s why the school system held an orientation for parents last month to see what students would be doing and how they can help them at home.

One frequent question from parents was involved iPads that are damaged or lost.

“Parents just don’t have the money to pay for equipment,” said Foster, noting the schools have a contract with Apple to repair or replace broken tablets. at no cost to students or parents. The only exception, Foster said, would be if a student intentionally destroys an iPad, at which point he will face disciplinary action.

Besides the learning component of the iRaleigh program, Foster said students are learning another lesson.

“We have to teach our students responsibility with everything. This will certainly be one of those things that we make sure they understand,” said Foster.

The school system is paying for the iPads and plans to phase out text books within the next five years.

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