Lake Superior school district explores tablet computers in classroomsHeavy backpacks full of books may be a thing of the past for Lake Superior school district students and teachers. Superintendent Phil Minkkinen thinks that in the future their backpacks may hold only one thing: a tablet.
Heavy backpacks full of books may be a thing of the past for Lake Superior school district students and teachers. Superintendent Phil Minkkinen thinks that in the future their backpacks may hold only one thing: a tablet.
Minkkinen said that the school district has been talking about tablets for a year. However, he said iPads were not an option because they would cost about $1,000 each, which took them “out of the picture financially.” All of the possible tablet choices would not cost more than $400. Minkkinen said he has bought copies of the Amazon Kindle Fire, Samsung Galaxy Tab, Toshiba Thrive, Motorola Xoom, Acer Iconia, and the Asus Eee. Two netbooks (small laptops) are part of the choices being considered as well.
Teacher applications to be part of a tablet testing pilot group were due on Nov.23. Twelve teachers will be selected to try out the tablets for a few weeks before switching models to try out others. Feedback will be given on each tablet. Minkkinen said he would like a teacher recommendation on which to buy by March and that he would like to start using the tablets by the start of the next school year.
Minkkinen said his eventual goal is to have the entire school district using tablets—including kindergarteners. The goal is to move away from textbooks. “If you look at a textbook it was put together a year ago, it was printed now, and it’s obsolete tomorrow,” Minkkinen said. “When the Soviet Union fell apart every world geography book and every map ever printed was obsolete that day.”
Minkkinen said that with tablets teachers could create their own curriculum. “If you can create curriculum materials to use in your classroom that are always researched and always up to date online, you don’t need a book,” he said. “And certainly you would be able to supplement with textbooks, but honestly? Which would you rather see? Something live you found on the Internet that’s valid or something that’s printed and old?”
But not everyone is excited about tablets. “There are some people who are a little hesitant about this, maybe a lot of hesitant by this. It changes the dynamic quite a bit,” Minkkinen said.
But the superintendent said that he thinks tablets are the next step. “If you are trying to prepare your kids for a world that we don’t know what it even looks like, you probably need to step in to it a little bit at a time,” he said. “And if we continue to do everything that we have for the last forty years we aren’t necessarily preparing them for something that is going to be out there and that’s what we’re trying to do.”