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Oxford School District discusses transitioning from laptops to iPads

In an effort to allow teachers and students to be more creative and enhance their learning, the Oxford School District is considering switching from MacBooks to iPads in the coming years.

The proposal was made by OSD assistant superintendent Bradley Roberson during the Board of Trustees meeting on Monday. In Roberson’s proposal, students in grades three through 12 would receive an iPad. Currently, only seventh through 12th grades have access to laptops.

“The iPad opens you up to a million apps that allow you to be more creative in your construction of lessons and the way that you teach,” Roberson said. “It can easily eliminate the direct substitution of using (the MacBook) just as a typing device and some of those things that we’ve grown accustomed to.”

If the school district decides to switch to the iPads, it would cost approximately $70,000 more than purchasing new MacBook computers only for students in seventh through 12th grade. It would cost OSD an additional $200,000 to purchase iPads for students in third through sixth grades and still purchase computers for students in grades seven through 12.

The biggest concern by Board president Ray Hill was why a third grader would need to have access to an iPad.

“There’s a lot of functionality (with iPads),” Roberson said. “I have a third grader that, if I would allow him to, lives on the iPad. It’s all about engagement. If you want to engage him in math and (English Language Arts) and science and social studies, give him something that he can do and engage him on an iPad.”

Third through sixth grade students would have access to the iPads during the school day, but would be unable to take them home. Seventh through 12th grade students would be able to take their iPads home just like they currently do with their MacBooks.

If iPads are purchased, the school district would also provide keyboard cases for seventh through 12th grade. Oxford begins teaching typing skills in fifth and sixth grades, but the Board was not sure if they would buy cases for those grades or not.

This transition, if OSD decides to move forward, would begin with the 2020-21 school year. The Board voted to advertise for bids for the iPads and the keyboard cases. Superintendent Brian Harvey reiterated the decision to advertise for bids does not mean OSD has voted to purchase the iPads.

“We haven’t allocated any funds or agreed to purchase anything,” Harvey said. “If the board decides this is something we aren’t going to do, it can be undone.”