US schools district to hand out 26,000 tablets

Lucky school kids in an area of Virginia, USA, can consider themselves some of the most technologically advanced as teachers plan to rip up their text books in favour of iPads and Kindles.

While there are other programmes in the US thinking about implementing tablets, Henrico County Public Schools has pledged that all of its 26,000 students will have access to tablets as part of a continued programme to provide kids with leading technology to support their studies.

The district was one of the first in the US to provide every single high school and middle school pupil with iBooks back in 2001 and will now look to supply every child with a tablet such as Apple’s iPad once its current lease for laptops expires.

Currently schools in Henrico County are issued with enough laptops for 26,000 kids and 4,000 teachers, costing in the region of $8 million dollars every year, and with the new scheme it would cost in the region of $13m – that’s before a discount is factored in.

“Henrico County led the digital innovations in high school technology by adopting and supporting for 10 years now a laptop initiative, and we want to be on that cusp again,” Superintendent Patrick Russo said

“One of my frustrations is not being further along, especially 10 years into the laptop initiative.”

It is not confirmed which tablets the students will be given, though it is reported, according to local media, that there are currently trials of Apple’s iPad, with a history of affiliation with Apple products, as well as some Dell computers.

“I think it will be some type of tablet that will be much more easy and portable, that would do everything we have right now,” Russo said, “We have to move in that direction.”

Firstly the schools aim to get rid of text books and move to digital versions in the next year.

“We made a commitment pretty much we are not buying more textbooks,” said Russo.

“We are going to look at investing that money in a digital platform that is going to allow our teachers to be able to take resources and build their lessons around things that are more current versus a textbook that the day is published is out of date.”

The schools aims to utilise Amazon’s Kindle reader, as well as rolling out 2,000 interactive boards into class rooms.

While Russo states that there is no direct correlation between student having access to high tech learning methods and actually performing well academically it prepares them better for studying when in further education.

“Our kids are given that little bit of difference to be able to make them successful, I think the investment … is well, well worth it.”