Sacred Heart Prep invests big time in iPads

All incoming ninth-graders will receive them

By Caitlin Moyles

Special to the Almanac

All 157 ninth-grade students at Sacred Heart Preparatory in Atherton will be issued a school-owned Apple iPad 2 this fall, enabling them to create film projects, upload data from probes in science labs, and download e-books, all on one portable digital device.

The iPads are part of Sacred Heart's 1:1 tablet program, which seeks to integrate new technology into the school's curriculum by equipping each student with a personal computer.

Sacred Heart Schools have already issued tablet PCs to fifth- through eighth-graders, according to Joy Lopez, director of educational technology at Sacred Heart.

She said she expects the iPads will streamline the learning process and give students more room for creativity.

"With cameras, GarageBand and iMovie, (the iPad 2) really became a tool for students to create and get information in a new and innovative way," said Ms. Lopez. "It has the power of a creation tool rather than a consumption tool."

To make films for a global studies class, for example, freshmen have to check out video cameras and go to the computer lab to upload and edit their footage. The iPad, however, will create a more seamless classroom experience, as students will have all the tools at their disposal all the time, she said.

She listed the device's lightness, portability, and capacity to suit diverse learning needs via audio books and verbally recorded notes among its desirable features.

"This is the 21st century," Ms. Lopez said. "We need to educate our students for their world, not for our world. We have to teach them to live in a world where their jobs aren't even invented yet."

After the program's inaugural year, the school will issue digital devices to subsequent ninth-grade classes so that all high school students will have one by 2015.

Ninth-grade teachers will also be issued iPads. Each curricular department will have a designated "technology mentor," who will train teachers to use the iPads to suit their curriculum.

To prepare for the program's inauguration, the school has been equipped with wireless infrastructure and technical support, which will provide students and teachers with technical assistance during school hours and keep the iPads up to date with the latest software installations.

Ms. Lopez added that Sacred Heart's administrators, many of whom also teach, were issued iPads about a month ago to see how they would use them in their respective disciplines and give feedback.

"Everyone on the administrative team was able to give input on the decision to move forward with the iPad," Ms. Lopez said in an email. "It was truly a team decision."

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