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Changing education with a wave of new technology

Published 8/28/2012 in Special Sections : GCHS

By RACHAEL GRAY

rgray@gctelegram.com

With new classrooms, shops, athletic facilities, academies and closed lunches, students have a lot of things to get used to at the new Garden City High School.

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Becky Malewitz/Telegram GCHS' 1-to-1 iPad initiative will equip each student at the high school with an iPad to individualize, work from and take home. Technology administrators expect to hand out iPads after Labor Day.

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Becky Malewitz/ Telegram

Becky Malewitz/ Telegram

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Brad Nading/TelegramPush button security is located at the Garden City High School tennis complex.

Brad Nading/TelegramPush button security is located at the Garden City High School tennis complex.

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Brad Nading/TelegramBuffalo Broadcasting has a new home on the bottom level of Garden City High School featuring a new studio and windows between it and the control room. In the old GCHS, the two areas were in different rooms separated by walls.

Brad Nading/TelegramBuffalo Broadcasting has a new home on the bottom level of Garden City High School featuring a new studio and windows between it and the control room. In the old GCHS, the two areas were in different rooms separated by walls.

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Brad Nading/TelegramSecurity cameras are located on all sides of Garden City High School along the roof.

Brad Nading/TelegramSecurity cameras are located on all sides of Garden City High School along the roof.

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Brad Nading/TelegramSecurity cameras are located throughout the interior of Garden City High School.

Brad Nading/TelegramSecurity cameras are located throughout the interior of Garden City High School.

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Brad Nading/TelegramGarden City High School's media center.

Brad Nading/TelegramGarden City High School's media center.

Throw new technology into the mix, as well.

GCHS' 1-to-1 iPad initiative will equip each student at the high school with an iPad to individualize, work from and take home. Technology administrators expect to hand out iPads after Labor Day.

The iPad initiative has earned state, local and worldwide attention. USD 457 is providing 2,200 iPads for students and 130 iPads for teachers.

The iPad implementation was the sixth largest school district implementation and the 24th largest deployment of iPads in the world, as of June, according to Layne Schiffelbein, instructional technology coordinator.

Chris Remmich, chemistry teacher, used the iPad in his old classroom at the former high school.

"Really, the thing with these iPads is that we have an instant connection to our students," he said.

He said he can sync his iPad with the students' iPads and get instant feedback on answers. If students are having problems understanding material, Remmich can quickly identify where the students are struggling and go back over the material.

The iPad also allows students to seek further education and instruction outside the classroom. Using iTunes U, or iTunes University, students can browse different lectures on different topics.

Remmich also incorporates the iPad into his labs.

Students can make videos and take photos of experiments to consult later for observations or to draw conclusions, he said.

In addition to science teachers, other teachers are finding other uses for the iPad in their classrooms. Remmich has consulted with English teachers, who say iPads can provide more information on literature, including interactive plays and animations.

Math teachers use the iPad in similar ways to Remmich, offering questions with instant answers. Biology teachers can use different apps to show students the inside of the human body. Remmich said he sees it as a benefit for each student to have an iPad . He said it will provide a lot of repetition of material, especially when class times are short.

He said students having iPads to take home will enable them to access his class and material 24 hours a day. If students have trouble, they will be able to replay a lecture, see notes or do extra assignments.

Remmich said he would be able to send reminders to students to bring the proper materials, or remind them that they have a test.

"They can be engaged outside the classroom," he said.

Students in the pilot program from the past school year said they support the initiative.

For Darian McKnight, a senior, the iPad minimizes the space needed in his backpack and helps him not miss assignments.

He was part of the 1-to-1 iPad pilot program implemented at the old high school last year.

McKnight said he uses the iPad, smart phones and other types of technology in everyday life and at school.

"You put technology in my hands, I can do anything with it," he said.

Several teachers have spoken in favor of the iPad , saying that it changes the way students learn, retain and present information.

Russ Tidwell, debate coach, supports the measure.

"Information is power in society," he said.

Technology coordinators said the iPad implementation will help the school become paperless, saving the district about $60,000 a year.

Rick Atha, USD 457 superintendent, has said the money to fund the iPads for the first year will come out of bond money saved by the new high school coming in under budget. Board members in April approved spending $1,042,937.64 of the bond money on the initiative.

In the second and third years, the money will come out of the supplemental general fund, Atha has said.

The cost for the second and third year to the district will be $452,577.14 and $349,600, respectively.

Individual cost for the iPad is $531, which includes the cost of the device, protective case, license and apps, according to Atha.

The iPad initiative has led to network-tweaking and larger bandwidth for the high school. The school may become a "hot spot" where students can get online to work on projects. School officials are hoping some restaurants, churches and community facilities become "hot spots" where students can work on schoolwork.

Technology officials have said even students who don't have access to Wifi can download assignments to work on at home. Digital backpacks will enable students to turn in and view assignments.

In addition to the iPads, the school has more technology in terms of security.

Steve Karlin, deputy superintendent, said the school has 85 cameras that will serve as surveillance in and outside the building.

School officials are hoping to set up a camera at the entrance of the high school to keep track of who goes in and out of the facility.

In case of lockdown or security situations, Won doors, which are sliding doors, will close off the academies from intruders.

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