BURLINGTON - The 1:1 technology initiative, which is going to put an iPad in the hand of every high school student in Burlington by the start of this school year, is putting this town in the national spotlight, as Burlington High School Principal Patrick Larkin provided the board with an update regarding the implementation and informed them of the positive publicity the town has been receiving from the media.
The 1:1 iPad initiative at the high school has been featured in coverage by area and national media outlets.
Larkin said of all the attention, "It's a lot of good news for Burlington."
The principal stated that there have been 15 distribution sessions, where parents and students come to receive their iPads and participate in an orientation on how to properly and constructively use the devices.
He stated that the 1:1 implementation process is an ongoing at this point, but noted that the resources provided to the students and parents are going to add value to their lives and the community.
"Burlington is going to be the most tech-savvy community around," said Larkin, noting that the high school is going to be the first in the state with iPads for each student. "Students and parents are going to use the resources in a way that will add value to their lives."
Burlington is holding the torch as the pioneers for the technology initiative. Larkin told the board that representatives of 25 different schools are coming to BHS on Wednesday (today) to see the groundwork that the town has laid out in order to make the 1:1 initiative come to fruition.
"There is no roadmap when distributing 1,000 iPads to students for the first time," said Larkin. "We are creating the roadmap."
In an effort to help make the implementation process smoothly move along, Larkin confirmed that there will be a technology help group for students and teachers. The group will be made up of high school students taking part in a credited-course called Educational Technology Integration, and their objective will be to help other students and teachers learn about the iPads.
Larkin noted that having a group like this will help the school reach its ultimate goal of becoming a community of learners, which includes students, teachers, and faculty who are all going to learn together.
It was reiterated to the board that the iPad was selected primarily because of its price tag of $500 and its battery life. An iPad has a battery life of about ten hours, which is four to five hours more than a typical laptop.
In regard to a financial commitment, School Supt. Dr. Eric Conti figures the cost of the 1:1 program is going to be $200,000 per year, but the board was informed that the cost will be somewhat offset by other savings.
Those include a reduction in book leases and by making the decision to retire an older technology lease.
There will be a third-party insurance company, Worth Avenue Group, who was recommended by and is a partner of Apple. Larkin noted that the insurance, which covers everything, will cost $39 each year. Also, there will be a $50 deductible included.
Conti and Larkin "strongly" recommended that parents utilize the insurance option.
The School Committee is ecstatic with the progress being made and the attention the town of Burlington is receiving.
Committee member Thomas F. Murphy Jr. spoke about how he has heard nothing but good things from parents who have gone to the distribution sessions and picked up their iPads.
"The parents like meeting in a relatively small group, because then they are able to ask questions and get a handle on the [iPad]," said Murphy. "Everyone in the community is pretty excited."
Committee member Christine Monaco commended the superintendent and the high school principal for taking Burlington to a whole new level and making the town a technological pioneer for schools.
"Between [Larkin] and Eric [Conti], you have put us on some map," said Monaco, noting how all she keeps hearing are all these great things about Burlington. "Everyone in the state knows about [Larkin and Conti] and I am really pleased and impressed that this is happening in Burlington."
Larkin commended everyone involved for making the 1:1 iPad initiative a reality. He thanked the fiscal responsibility of the town of Burlington, which allowed BHS to be in this situation. In addition, he credited the "forward-thinking" superintendent, School Committee and the "tremendously talented" staff.
"You can just go right down the line," said Larkin. "If it weren't for those factors, we wouldn't even be trying this."