The sign in the hallway tells Renville County West fifth-grade students what they’ll need in class: social studies book, pencil, folder, iPad.
In another classroom, Quick Response codes on the bulletin board can be used to download assignments directly onto an iPad.
They are visual reminders of how much things have changed this year for students and staff at RCW, which has provided Apple iPads for all students in grades 4-12. Nearby MACCRAY Schools has provided iPads for students in grades 7-12.
There have been bumps in the road—the devices need better cases, because they break too easily, and there have been occasional issues with kids downloading unauthorized software.
But the positives have outweighed the negatives, school officials said recently. While this is still a transition year, they say they can see ways the iPads will help the district contain costs in the future.
As they need new textbooks, for example, they expect to use digital versions where possible.
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Their experience also has stirred interest around the state. RCW representatives were mobbed at a January school board convention, where people had to be turned away from their presentation.
“We’re getting calls now, and we’re more than happy to share,” said Superintendent Lance Bagstad. “We’ve made mistakes, and we’ve done things right.”
School Board member David Hamre said the board has been pleased with the progress seen this year.
“They are above and beyond what we ever dreamed of,” he said, “and it’s only the beginning.”