Duval County pre-K students to get iPads

Published On: Feb 08 2013 04:56:01 PM EST
Updated On: Feb 08 2013 08:57:07 PM EST

VIDEO: Call it an iPad about face ordered by duval county's new school superintendent. iPads that were initially ordered for school administrators are instead being redirected to pre-kindergarten classrooms.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

Duval County's pre-kindergarteners will be the first in the district to get their hands on iPads in the classroom.

The tablets were once ordered for administration staff but are now being redirected to the kids.

Spring Park Elementary School student Jamarcus Harden knows what an iPad is.

"It's like a touch screen and it's like a big phone that you can do lots of things on," the fourth-grader said.

The thought of having one in school gets him more excited than the playground.

"You can learn stuff that you don't know, and you can get information so you can do like biographies," Harden said.

Duval County Superintendent Nikolai Vitti says that's exactly why he's focusing on getting more technology into schools.

"Our children are digital natives," he said. "They are growing up in a technological environment and the think technology, so we have to give them the tools to enhance their learning because that's how they're starting to think and that's how they're starting to learn."

When Vitti found out the district previously spent $261,000 on iPads on 350 iPads for administration, he took the iPads back to give to pre-K students, and they will be used in the classroom.

"Resources are scarce, so when we do come across an opportunity to purchase technology, I think it's important to shift those resources to the classroom," Vitti said.

Dr. Laura Bailet, the executive director of Nemours BrightStart reading program, doesn't recommend screen use before the age of 2, but thinks 4 years old is an important age to use such technology.

"With 4- and 5-year-olds, there's absolutely no question that iPads and other devices absolutely capture the child's interest and engagement," Bailet said. "So from that respect, it's a great teaching device."

The iPads will rotate between Duval County schools. They'll be used in pre-K centers to teach reading and math.

"That's when the achievement gap is narrowest, and we can build a foundation for an outstanding education, especially literacy," Vitti said.

Vitti isn't stopping with the 4-year-olds. He said the district was recently awarded a technology grant to pay for more tablets. Vitti expects they'll be in the hands of older students this fall.

His goal is to make sure every student in Duval County has access to one.

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