All Mercer Island High School students and district eighth graders will have a new standard piece of equipment by next fall -- their own district-issued iPad 2.
Last week, the Mercer Island School District approved a purchase of 1,700 iPads for Mercer Island High School students and district eighth graders. The rollout begins in April to the 10th and 11th graders at the high school. In the fall, grades 8 through 12 all will have iPads.
The district approved the purchase determining that the 16 GB iPad 2 would be the best fit for the district after a two-year pilot program, said Andreeves Ronser, the Mercer Island School District manager of information technology.
The district currently has about 550 iPads distrbuted among teachers, adminsitrators and sets available for classes that need them for projects, he said.
Last year, the district had a "bring your own device" policy, but that made it difficult for teachers to use educational software and apps because of compatibility issues, Ronser said.
Now with the iPads issued and managed by the district, it will be easier for teachers to use educational apps because everyone will be using the same devices, he said.
The ability to take the devices home will allow students to have 24-hour access to educational software and apps that teachers use for classes, Ronser said.
Students will turn their devices in over the summer, Ronser said, when the district can upgrade software and the district will use a management system that would allow only certain apps to be available and would enable the district to blacklist apps at any time.
The school board unanimously approved the devices, which are being purchased with money from a 2010 construction and technology levy. The program, involving 1,700 devices and the software management system, wil cost the district $1 million, he said.
According to US News and World Report, Apple reported that high schools and colleges purchased 1 million iPads last year, which was twice as many as the year before.
Other nearby districts that have purchased iPads for broad use by students include the Shoreline School District, which issued iPads to Shorewood High School in 2011.
What do you think of Mercer Island's iPad purchases? What's been your experience in the classroom? Tell us in the comments.