iPads to be piloted in Chinese classes

Utilizing federal grant dollars that are assigned to our Chinese language program, we are evaluating a 1:1 iPad deployment that would be specific to students enrolled in Chinese.   1:1 means that an individual iPad would be assigned to each student enrolled in Chinese (approx 87 students) and they would use the iPad for educational purposes at school and could eventually earn the ability to use them at home as well.  The iPad would remain property of the district and would be returned if they drop from Chinese, graduate, or move out of WDM schools.

At this time, we are only in the discussion stage –  as there are a lot of questions, concerns, and scenarios that need to be researched including the obvious topics such as: student safety, security of the devices, inventory management, training and student expectations, insurance coverage, how to evaluate its effectiveness, etc.  We have not set a date for deployment of the iPads to the Chinese students.  Instead, we are collecting questions, concerns, and scenarios that need to be researched and addressed prior to any deployment of this kind.

Q1. Why Chinese? Why not other curriculum areas?
A1. The funds that will be used are specifically associated with the Chinese grant.

Q2. If it’s one-time funding, how do you plan to sustain the project?
A2. That is correct, this project is starting with the last available dollars of the federal grant that is assigned to Chinese courses.  We have maximized everything we could from the grant for salaries/benefits and the remaining funds must be spent this summer.  Our original plan was to use the remaining funds to purchase additional iPads – and with the recently lowered price of the iPad2, we have the ability to evaluate the idea of an iPad assigned to each student.  One of the outcomes or purposes of the pilot is to find out if it’s worth sustaining.

Q3. The district recently eliminated 8th grade French due the end of the grant, so why wouldn’t use these funds to fund the French program?
There are two separate grants, one for K-8 language, and another for Chinese.  We have utilized as much as possible from both grants for salaries/benefits through the allowable grant period.  In addition, the grant expires this summer and cannot be used as a source of salary funding for next school year.

Q4. Providing iPads for only Chinese could pit one language against another for student recruitment.  Are we using technology to “buy” students into our programs?
A4. The intention is certainly not to pit one language against another.  In conversation with staff and students, we are discussing the following possibilities…

  1. Perhaps iPads are not received/used until Chinese II.
  2. Perhaps the devices are only available after the drop course date.
  3. Perhaps the devices are only used in the classroom, eventually students would have the ability to earn the right to take them home and/or use for other classes.

Q5. Why the iPad?
A5. The touch features of the tablet are ideal for learning and practicing Chinese characters. Other key features include: a built-in Chinese keyboards that can easily switch between English/Chinese, instant on/off, and its size/portability.

Q6. Why 1:1?
A6. We had reserved some of the final Chinese federal grant funds to expand the number of iPads for Chinese.  In researching our options, the recent price reduction for iPad2’s has enabled us to explore the 1:1 option.   In addition, as many teachers have experienced, the iPad is best assigned to a person, not as a shared device.


Q7. If this is “good” for Chinese, then it should be “good” for all students, and we should only proceed if it’s available for all students.
A7. That is why this is a pilot project; we need to test to see if this is a viable educational option and if it has a real impact in the classroom.  If the pilot is deemed successful, then we have a basis to begin exploring ways to roll out 1:1 initiatives to other students/classes.

Q8. What are we looking to gain from testing a 1:1 iPad scenario?
A8.  Although we’ll be looking at many factors, we are very interested in the following…

a. Differentiation – the ability to enable each learner to move at their own pace and demonstrate their learning through multiple avenues.
b. Higher order thinking – moving beyond asking questions that can be easily “googled”

c. Modernizing what takes place in our classrooms, moving beyond traditional reports and posters.

Q9. Will this decision mean that the rest of the district will not receive additional iPads next year – and all resources are being directed to this project?
A9.  Absolutely NOT…  The decision to use Chinese grant money to purchase iPads for Chinese will not take away from other resources. 

Q10. So what is the district plan for continuing with iPads… will teachers still be able to apply next year? will it be restricted to certain courses/grades, etc?
A10.  Additional iPads will be available next year, but the exact rollout, timing, and target audience hasn’t been determined. In fact, we are collecting information from those who received iPads this past year to help determine what worked and where it made the most difference.

One thought on “iPads to be piloted in Chinese classes

  1. Phil Peters

    Thank you Brian for your explanations and responses to some of the concerns. Your description of the program and ongoing dialogue is appreciated.


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