East Syracuse Seventh-graders at Bishop Grimes Junior/Senior High School will be the first students in the Central New York area to receive their own iPad minis to use in the classroom and at home.
Bishop Grimes principal Marc Crouse and other school officials have been researching the benefits of bringing this kind of technology into the classroom for the past year and a half, and Crouse said that in the end, the pros outweigh the cons.
“It’s important to me and the school to make sure our kids have a competitive edge out in the field,” he said. “I recently sat in on a class at Syracuse University and all of the students are using their smartphones and tablets in class. I don’t want Bishop Grimes students to go to college and be a step behind everybody else because they’re not comfortable with a certain level of technology.”
Bishop Grimes purchased 60 iPad minis for its seventh-graders and 40 regular iPads for its teachers. The school was able to buy enough for one class this year through a combination of funding from the Diocese of Syracuse, a technology fee that each student pays at the beginning of the year and leftover funds donated to the school by the graduating class of 2013. Crouse said Bishop Grimes is planning to give a new set of iPad minis to every incoming seventh-grade class and also hopes to “backtrack” through the other grades, starting with the current eighth-grade class.
Crouse said the school will ultimately save money on textbooks, which will be used to offset the initial purchase of the tablets. Regular textbooks cost about $75 each, as compared to e-textbooks, which run for about $15 each on the iTunes store. The school explored the possibility of using other brands besides Apple, but ultimately decided to go with the iPads because of their compatibility with digital textbooks.