Commissioners approve school plan for major technology program - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Commissioners approve school plan for major technology program

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An Apple for teacher?  It's more like one for every middle and high school student in Iredell County, and in this case, it's not something you eat.

School leaders in Iredell County had to go a few rounds with commissioners in order to get a new project approved, but now they say this project will dramatically change the way students are taught. 

Wednesday morning at North Iredell Middle School there were no nets swishing, and no points on the board, but the crowd inside the gym was on its feet, and some of the loudest cheers were for the superintendent and the principal.

But the excitement is really for technology, and a new program that will put an Apple Mac Book Air in the hands of every middle and high school student here.

"This is not about devices, it's about blended learning and the device is simply the tool that enhances blended learning," Superintendent Brady Johnson told WBTV.  "These kids have grown up with technology, it's not second nature to them, it's the way they choose to learn, that's what's so exciting a bout this and how it dovetails nicely with the blended learning model."

Blended learning is a combination of technology and traditional teaching tools.  It's already widely used, but a $20 million federal grant and some local money will mean that for students in ISS will be on the same page, or same device.

The system will lease the equipment from Apple, making it easier to refresh the devices when needed.

It's what happens at the end of three years when the federal grant runs out that had some commissioners concerned enough to vote down this proposal before approving an amended one Tuesday night. 

"We have to develop a sustainability plan at the end of three years for replacement of computers, purchase of more computers, bookbags, etc," said Board of Education member and former teacher John Rogers.  "It just opens the whole world up, it gives opportunities they can take it home they can use it at home do all their projects use it at school."

Students are clearly excited about it.  They'll be able to carry the devices home, and for a generation already completely plugged into technology, it's a natural fit.

"I think it will help us on our projects, research things easier," said 8th grader Kadree Campbell. 

"You get to take notes on it, and the teachers don't have to take their time to print out stuff," added student Claire Foy. "It's a lot easier to research things."

With the approval coming from commissioners, the first computers could be in the hands of students in the first four schools by March.

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