A local elementary school received big marks from a computer giant recently.
Apple recognized Thamesville Area Central School (TACS) as an Apple Distinguished Program for 2015-17.
Joy Badder, superintendent of education for the Lambton-Kent District School Board, said the thumbs up came as a result of the school being part of a pilot project with the board. Every Grade 7 student was given an iPad mini, and it’s essentially his or hers for the next four years.
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It started back in 2011 for all feeder schools to Lambton-Kent Composite School in Dresden, Badder said. TACS is one of those schools.
“Every kid was given an iPad. It was a take-home device. They have it 24/7,” she said. “They have the device for as long as they’re students with the board, or the life of the device.”
The students do give the iPads back to the board for the summer months, but each student gets the same device back in the fall.
Badder said the tablets have about a four-year life expectancy, so the board anticipates the students to use the devices through their Grade 10 year.
As for Apple singling TACS out, Badder said the students, their parents and teachers have really warmed to the devices.
“Thamesville is one of six schools in Canada that was given the distinction by Apple. It was the only publicly funded elementary school in Ontario to receive the award,” she said, adding it was a rigorous review process, and that leadership from teachers, and commitment from students and their parents played a role.
She said the tablets are revolutionizing education.
“It’s a huge, huge change for the manner of their learning,” she said. “These students have information at their fingertips that’s current and relevant to them. They can connect throughout the world. The students in Thamesville do that regularly through Skype.
“They can access the world. That’s a very different mode of learning.”
Badder said teachers are posting lessons online and students are accessing them – before they’re being taught in the classroom.
She said the board understands that other people in the family may access the iPads. In fact, it’s encouraged.
“Because it’s a take-home device, the whole family has access to it. It becomes an educational device for everyone in the family,” she said.
The eventual goal is to extend the iPad project to all schools in the board.