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Maine school district to spend $200,000 on Apple iPads for kindergartners

April 13, 2011 | 12:07 pm

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A school district in Maine is proposing to spend about $200,000 on Apple iPad 2s to get the devices into the hands of about 300 kindergartners.

"It's a revolution in education," said Auburn School Dept. Supt. Tom Morrill in a report from the Associated Press.

Morrill is making the proposal, which calls for the iPads to be in classrooms in the district's schools in the city of Auburn, Maine. The superintendent told the AP that the iPad is a powerful tool for education when equipped with some of the hundreds of apps available that can aide in interactive learning.

Auburn kindergarten teacher Amy Heimerl received an iPad for her classroom on Tuesday as an early adopter of sorts in the districts plan, the report said.

"It's definitely an adventure, and it'll be a journey of learning for teachers and students," Heimerl told the AP. "I'm looking forward to seeing where this can take us and our students."

But the superintendent's plan isn't a hit with everyone in Auburn, the report said.

Sue Millard, an Auburn mother to students in the fourth grade and in high school said she isn't sure kindergartners are old enough to make the most of the iPads.

"I understand you have to keep up with technology, but I think a 5-year-old is a little too young to understand," Millard told the AP.

Larry Cuban, a retired Standford University professor and the author of the book "Oversold and Underused: Computers in Schools," said the benefits of computers for students so young has yet to be proved.

"There's no evidence in research literature that giving iPads to 5-year-olds will improve their reading scores," Cuban told the AP.

If Morrill's plan comes to fruition this fall, after his retirement which is slated for June, it wouldn't be the first time the state was ahead of the curve in getting computers in front of its students.

As the AP noted, in 2002 and 2003 Maine was the first state to distribute laptops to every seventh- and eighth-grade student. Those laptops were also from Apple, and that effort is no longer in action, but about 50% of the computers are now used by high schoolers, the report said.

Maine's state school board unanimously voted to approve Morrill's iPad plan last week, the AP said.

Angus King, the former Maine governor who launched the state's past laptop program, said in the report that he was impressed by Morrill's iPad plan.

"If your students are engaged, you can teach them anything," King told the AP. "If they're bored and looking out the window, you can be Socrates and you're not going to teach them anything. These devices are engaging."

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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

twitter.com/nateog

Photo: Kindergartener Lucius Rice, 6, demonstrates to kindergarten teachers Sue Larue, left, Kelly McCarthy and Amy Heimerl, how to uses an iPad as literacy teacher Maurie Dufour, right, looks on Tuesday in Auburn, Maine. Credit: Joel Page / Associated Press

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