Florence schools continue rollout of iPad program - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Florence schools continue rollout of iPad program

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This is the second year of the district's rollout. (Source: WAFF file) This is the second year of the district's rollout. (Source: WAFF file)

Officials at Florence City Schools are rolling out their iPads for students.

It is the second year of their plan to replace textbooks with the touch-sensitive tablet computers. Many parents and students lined up to pick up their iPads Monday morning.

With an eagerness to learn, the Florence City Schools' Technology Center was packed with children and parents ready to collect the devices. Returning students are being issued the same device they had the previous year - and many already know the drill when it comes to digital citizenship.

"You can get in trouble online saying bad things or mean things online," said one student. "You can get your iPad restricted or taken up."

For some parents, the technology allows them to stay connected with their child's progress throughout the year.

"With the homework going through it doing it on the iPad I didn't have to wait for the report cards - it's all right there on the iPads," said one adult. "As her grades were dropping, before the report cards even came out, I was able to catch it, help her out, let her know what she needs to do to bring it back up."

Still, some parents remain concerned about the instructions linked with the devices.

"The technology is wonderful, but I don't think the administration has been good in making sure the kids don't abuse the technology," said another parent. "We struggled all last year trying to keep our daughter off of Snapchat and keep her off of iMessage and the games. The teachers send home assignments and say I need to download this particular app or I have to download this other thing... I don't think they really thought them out very well."

The district's Director of Information Technology suggests parents keep an open line of communication with their children about use and overuse of the device. He said if needed, the school can set specific restrictions on the iPads for each individual student.

"Its a balance and we want parents to do what they need to do at home to limit access to technology for their kids and disconnect," said Chris Westbrook. "However, academically, we know that students need that access to technology, so we want to work with parents."

As teachers and staff prepare to start their second year with the devices, school leaders said they're excited to see students really soar when it comes to success in the classroom.

"Students are very familiar with the iPad and how to use it instructionally, as well as teachers, so we're excited about the opportunity to see student growth and academic achievement improve even quicker this year," said Westbrook.

iPads will be distributed again Tuesday from 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.; Thursday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

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