SPOKANE, Wash. – Students at Gonzaga Prep don’t have to worry about hauling around books in their backpacks anymore, because every one of them will soon carry iPads.
The large, private Jesuit high school in north Spokane announced Thursday that all of the school’s 870 students will use iPads starting in the fall. Gonzaga Prep would become the largest school of its size in the region to ditch books in favor of iPads.
All of the faculty members will also receive iPads if they don’t currently own one.
The school administration gathered information from parents, students, alumni, faculty and staff on the change. They also consulted with education and technology experts on the feasibility of implementing a “one-to-one” computing environment throughout the school.
The school is revealing its decision in an assembly at 10 a.m. Thursday. KREM 2 News will be there to gather reaction from students and staff. Watch KREM 2 News at Noon, 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. and stay KREM.com for more information.
Gonzaga Prep sent a list of frequently asked questions and answers to parents about the move to iPads in the fall. Here it is in its entirety:
We believe that the use of the iPad is an opportunity to level the playing field for our students. We know that our students come from vastly different economic backgrounds, and we know that technology is required of our students in many different ways. What we do not know is what their access to technology is when they leave campus. The use of iPads will not make everything equal, but it will at least provide all students with a common baseline.
Will the school provide the iPad?
No. Each student must purchase her/his own iPad. It is the family's decision to insure and accessorize the iPad. A protective case is strongly recommended.
What are the specifications for the iPad?
iPad 2, 16GB, Wi-Fi
Will there be any cost savings by requiring iPads?
We intend to use as many electronic textbooks and books as we can. Electronic books cost much less than traditional textbooks. We fully expect families will experience a significant cost savings over two to three years.
Will you be offering volume purchases of Apps?
The school is already enrolled in a program in which it can purchase Apps in volume and distribute those to the students at a reduced price. This would be for Apps the school would require for student use. The school intends to access as many free Apps as possible.
Will there be provisions to help us manage the cost of iPads?
We are currently exploring possibilities for an iPad Purchase and/or Financing Program that we can offer to our families. This includes volume purchasing models. We are working with Apple and local vendors to achieve this.
Will the school teach my student how to use the iPad properly?
We will focus technology training to help students use these devices responsibly, ethically and productively.
Will this device distract my child from doing his/her work?
Students can be distracted by what they can do with the device. The iPad makes it easy for a student to surf the internet, check email, send an instant message, play a game, read a book for another class, and so on. Many students are already experiencing these distractions with phones, iPods, and laptops. We will work with the students on developing self-discipline and in making the right choices when in class and when they are doing homework.
Aren’t kids already overexposed to technology and social media?
We are aware of the dangers associated with overexposure to technology and social media. Our job is to make sure that students know those dangers, too, and become smart users of their smart phones and computing devices. Your child’s teachers will help in that endeavor. They have been trained to use the right tool at the right time. Sometimes it makes sense to put pen to paper or turn the pages of a book, whether those are paper pages or electronic pages. Sometimes it’s important to just listen or to lead a group discussion. And sometimes it’s essential to use an iPad to find the best answers, synthesize mountains of information and create something dynamic that will help transform our world. We also want to create a level playing field, without digital haves and have-nots. The iPads will ensure that every student has the necessary digital tools to aid his or her education and growth.
Can I block my child from using certain apps or websites?
The iPad does have parental controls that can be used to lock down a device. We are exploring options for parents to have control over the devices.
Will the school block my child from using apps or websites?
Gonzaga Prep filters the web content available to the students through the on campus wireless network. If a student has a 3G or 4G capable device, we cannot filter, and off campus and at home we cannot filter. You may want to contact your internet service provider for ways to block websites at your home.
Will there be training or orientation for students and parents?
Though we have not finalized the details, we will plan orientation sessions for August 2013 for both students and parents.