The school district in Van Meter, Iowa has ditched their workbooks and replaced them with MacBooks in a four-year digital learning experiment.
John Carver, Superintendent of the Van Meter school district in Iowa, has taken a bold move into the realm of digital learning. In the 2009-2010 school year, the district handed out laptops to all its seventh to twelfth grade students. The school district signed a four-year lease agreement with Apple to provide the students with MacBook laptops. The program costs about US$149,000 per year and is funded by the district's Physical Plant and Equipment Levy (PPEL) and School Infrastructure Local Option (SILO) tax. It hopes to have the funds to extend this program to K-12 students by the 2012-2013 school year.
Unlike other schools that plop computers on a student's desk and walk away, Carver did away with traditional paper-based learning and actively used the laptops in a new digital curriculum. The response towards the program has been enthusiastic. School board member John Seefeld was "amazed at students' attentiveness, how engaged they were and how they seemed to be learning better under the new format." Iowa Department of Education Director Jason Glass took a tour of the program and remarked that "after two years of exploring the capacity of the devices, the kids and teachers are learning and evolving in their own knowledge of how powerful new technology can be."
Well done, Van Meter School District! May the program bring continued success.