A Truly Mixed Environment

My friend and colleague, Tom James (Mercy’s Director of IT), shared some interesting numbers with me, today. At most recent count, our students have ordered 274 iPads. Of course our incoming ninth graders are mandatedto purchase the Apple product. However, one third of the purchases have come from our returning students.

Thus, we find ourselves in a unique situation. Those schools which are adopting the iPad find that the price point allows them to put classroom sets of devices in their students’ hands for the first time. Our circumstances of transitioning from a Windows laptop to and iOS tablet brings some special advantages and challenges. An obvious advantage is our seven years of experience in 1:1 computing. Most of our staff and students flourish in a digital learning environment and come to the iPad with immediate ideas of how to leverage it.

Creative Commons photo by markchadwickart

Still, our teachers will have a special challenge. Unless they have an all-ninth grade class, they will be in a mixed environment. In other words they will have both HP laptops and iPads in the same classroom. (And such will be the case for three years). Fortunately we are not buying our training for this “off the rack”. We are have developed a unique professional development scheme for our coming circumstances, and our tech department of Tom and Gary Bank (Network Administrator) help us quickly surmount challenges as they arise

Personally, I think a mixed environment is fantastic as this replicates the real world where there exists no Microsoft, Apple, or Google monopoly on the types of computing folks use for work and pleasure. In fact we have decided to embrace the mixture by providing our student with both Mac and P.C. multimedia labs. As our Principal frequently remarks, we are not an “Apple”, “HP”, or “Google” school.

I find the prospect of this unique challenge daunting, but exciting.  I believe we will all rise to the occasion and make something very special happen.  — Larry Baker, Associate Principal / Operations
Creative Commons photo by markchadwickart
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