Friday, October 24, 2014

Bethany to get iPads, laptops for students

Bethany Christian Schools is joining the movement of providing digital devices to every student for school use.

Posted on May 16, 2013 at 1:00 a.m. | Updated on May 16, 2013 at 2:50 p.m.

GOSHEN — Bethany Christian Schools will provide a digital device — an iPad to each fourth and fifth-grade student and a MacBook Air to students in grades six through 12 — at the start of the next school year.

According to information on Bethany’s website and information sent to parents, Bethany’s board of directors approved the administration’s proposal for the technology initiative on April 29.

Anonymous sources are covering the cost, the website says.

Bethany is the latest of several local schools to turn to “one-to-one technology” to provide a wider variety of resources than a textbook can provide.

Goshen High School is nearing the end of its second year of providing laptops to incoming freshmen, while Northridge High School is finishing up its first year of providing laptops for all students. This was also the first year that Goshen College provided iPads for its incoming freshmen as a part of a new curriculum.

Digital devices also allow students to participate in what’s called a “flipped classroom.” Instead of the traditional model of teaching during class with school work at home, a flipped classroom has students watching teachers’ recorded lectures via the Internet and doing research and reading on a subject at home. At school, the teacher guides students’ school work on that subject and makes sure students are on the right track and understand the subject matter. Bethany’s website says teachers plan to work with that model.

Bethany has been exploring the devices’ uses and preparing for the transition for the past two years, providing devices for teachers to explore, having teachers visit one-to-one classrooms across the state and running a pilot program with the laptops in some English classes, according to the site.

Principal Allan Dueck said last Spring, when talking about the possibility of such a program, that in a world where students can just “Google” for any information, teachers need to focus on developing critical thinking and analysis skills in students.

“It’s really getting away from a computer as a typing tool and getting into how is the technology age leveraged by the Internet,” and how can we get our kids prepared for that, he said.

According to Bethany’s site, when Dueck announced the news at an all-school assembly, “students enthusiastically cheered the news.”

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