Apple iPad: Future of education in Federal Way?

Apple's iPad was released in April 2010.
— image credit: Courtesy of Wikipedia

Federal Way School Board members were given a hands-on demonstration of what the new Apple iPad can do in terms of educational resources.

There are the thousands of apps that can bring education to life, including a 3-D map of the brain that students can view from all sides with the iPad. A Hubble Telescope app allows students to view pictures of the universe, zooming in and out and around the solar system with their fingers.

There is also an app for $6.99 that does the same thing as TI-83 calculators, which are required for higher math and cost between $80 and $100.

With the recent voter-approved technology levy, Federal Way schools are gearing up for an expansion of technology for students in the district. The iPad, a multimedia tablet computer released in April, is just one of several options the district will be considering over the next 24 months.

During the board's work study June 29, Apple representatives showed off some of the numerous apps that can be used for education on both the iPod touch and the iPad. Of the 150,000 apps available, about 15,000 of those are educational.

Educational content

In the iTunes store, there is a tab for iTunes U, which then can be searched to access hundreds of colleges, universities and school districts across the country. All the schools have different, free content. The Apple representatives pointed out several that can be used handily with the iPad or iPod. For example, under the University of South Florida, there is an icon called Lit 2 Go. This section has hundreds of audiobooks, all classics, that are free to download.

Also in iTunes U, there are links to history lectures from Central Washington University, books on public health from Stanford University and faculty books from Yale University.

Apple representative Bob Whicker said the Escondido Union School District in Southern California uses iPods for reading fluency; students use the microphone on the headphones to record themselves reading. Students could then listen to how they sounded, and teachers could store digital copies of their students' recordings to compare throughout the school year. Students using that method showed more progress than they had in the past, Whicker said.

"This was exactly the kind of stuff many of us here have envisioned," retiring Superintendent Tom Murphy said of the technology.

However, Murphy cautioned that because there is still time before the technology levy gets to the buildup stage, the Federal Way School District tech team will have to watch the growing technology field.

"By the time 2013 rolls around, iPads will be passe," Murphy said.

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