Millis School Committee Supports Funding for 1:1 Personalized Learning Initiative with iPads through 2016
After studying and discussing for many months, the Millis School Committee voted unanimously on April 3, 2012 to approve a four-year funding model to provide iPads for all ninth graders starting in the fall of 2012 and continuing each year until 2016. Since February 2011 Millis grade 8 students have been issued an iPad that they use at home and in school to support and enhance their learning. According to Grace Magley, Educational Technology Director for the Millis Public Schools, "the grade 8 iPad pilot has exceeded our expectations in helping teachers in Millis transform the learning environment. Our teachers are making learning more meaningful, engaging and personalized for students, and now we will have the opportunity to scale this model up to the Millis High School." Grace reflects back that, "in 1998, we had a simple goal, to provide one computer for every classroom. Today technology is being integrated into all aspects of the learning environment. Now students will have the ability to instantly access rich, adaptive learning resources and tools from anywhere at anytime with their iPads."
The funding model is based on APPLE education pricing of $379 for an iPad 2. With approximately 110 students per class this plan will cost just over $47,000 per year and is expected to be funded partially from a reallocation of computer lease dollars, the technology budget and school choice. According to Dave Baker, Chairman of the Millis School Committee, "We took a hard look at what our long term vision was for the schools and made a financial commitment to this important district initiative. The goal of moving Millis Schools forward to a 1 student/1 computing device environment has been the vision of this, and earlier Millis School Committees. Due to recent advances in technology (increased computing power at lower prices), Millis is finally able to make the 1:1 teaching model a reality, using the iPad device. Millis will now be achieving something that is standard practice at elite private schools and colleges, which will have a far reaching impact on how Millis students learn in the 21st century.”
According to the iPad Pilot Evaluation Report, issued at the end of last year's pilot, the iPad allows Millis students to collaborate, communicate, do school work and create products effectively. Communication between students and teachers as well as students and students has increased. Students access the teacher’s online classroom from home and school to participate in forum discussions, watch multimedia, read lessons, take quizzes and submit assignments. This Blended-Learning environment (Virtual and Face-to-Face) has provided teachers more time in the classroom to focus on the individual needs of their students, and use classroom time to engage learners in more inquiry and project-based learning.
The iPads are just one aspect of the Millis Public Schools Personalized Learning Initiative that has been a priority for Superintendent Nancy Gustafson since her arrival in Millis in 2006. Superintendent Gustafson is enthusiastic about what can be achieved with every student having an iPad to use 24/7. "The Millis motto is “Small School - Big Family” and we believe that we can personalize learning exceptionally well in Millis due to our size and culture so that all students can achieve at the highest levels." This initiative will help all high school students be more engaged in real-world applications of their skills and knowledge. The goals for Personalized Learning are embedded in the district vision: to empower students to be self-directed, life-long learners and leaders who know how to communicate, collaborate, think critically and be creative problem solvers. Students and teachers report that engagement, productivity and responsibility all have increased with the 1:1 iPad pilot. As iPads become more integrated and students and teachers become more skilled at using the device for personalized learning, Millis administrators expect to see improvements in achievement as well.