BECKLEY, W.Va. -- All public school students in Raleigh County will use iPads in the classroom when the new academic year begins.
The school system will assign iPad2s to every student in grades two through 12. Kindergarten and first-grade students will share an iPad Mini with one fellow student.
"We're thrilled to death to get started," Superintendent Jim Brown told The Register-Herald (http://bit.ly/14fNijj). "We truly believe it will change the face of our classrooms.
"Every day, we learn of a new tool we'll be able to access using an iPad in the classroom. It's really limitless."
School officials plan to phase out printed editions of textbooks over the next five years.
"This year, we will have our first electronic textbook, which will be our social studies," he said. "All existing editions are in place (in other subjects); it's not something we'll undo. But as we move through each of the adoptions, it's very much planned we will be using the electronic version.
"This will be a process we'll be phasing in over a period of time, but I can tell you the days of having the hardback textbooks is going away quickly.
"Vendors cannot continue to provide both an electronic version and a hard copy, so as the trend starts to take hold nationally, vendors will shift to eventually providing electronic textbooks."
The agreement with Apple will cost the county about $7 million, which will be paid by redirecting funds from other sources, including the cost of textbooks. The cost is about $135 per student, said Rick Snuffer, president of the Raleigh County Board of Education.
"Children today have never known anything but technology, so we have to look at new ways to engage them in the educational process," he said. "They become more excited in the educational process through (iPad use)."
Brown says the school system also will save money by converting many classroom activities to paperless.
Educators from Apple have trained teachers this summer on how to utilize the iPad for more effective teaching and student learning.