Starting next year, fourth to 12th grade students attending the Webb School in Knoxville, Tennessee will be required to have an iPad for classes. Jim Manikais, technology director at the private school, said this new policy was designed to let students "use that technology whenever they need it." Currently, students have to "check out a cart, a laptop cart, or schedule lab time to take a class to a lab" which made it difficult for both teachers and students to use technology regularly in the classroom. The school has a three-year rental plan for parents who are unable to purchase an iPad. This payment plan will cost about $200 per academic year or $20 per month for the ten-month school year.
School officials will block Facebook and Twitter on the school campus and English teacher, Elli Shellist, already has a plan to monitor web browser usage in class. The savvy teacher will randomly perform a flip check that requires students to flip their iPad towards the teacher so he can check what application they have opened. Of course, it won't take very long for even more savvy students to write an app that switches back to the appropriate application when the iPad is flipped forward rapidly. We won't even mention the antics that may ensue when the dual-camera iPad 2 makes its inevitable debut in the classroom.
Despite the potential for abuse, this is an excellent use of technology that will continue to expand in the future. Other academic institutions like Seton Hill and the University of Notre Dame encourage the usage of iPads in the classroom, while textbook publishers like Houghton Mifflin Harcourt are developing applications for use in academic settings.