When Mark Coley turns on his iPad, he sees a picture of the Abilene Christian High School football helmet with his team praying in the background.
“I put it on there, so everyone would know it was mine,” Coley said.
Coley, principal and athletic director at ACHS, made sure to put his mark on his iPad because two weeks ago, all Abilene Christian Schools faculty, administration and staff received the devices free of charge.
Randy Hill, ACU alumnus and Abilene businessman, donated the money for the faculty iPads and plans to do the same for all ACHS students starting in the fall. All younger grades will have access to iPads in a mobile lab that students can use in the classroom.
ACS has been considering bringing more technology on campus in recent years, and President of ACS Craig Fisher said these devices, as well as other technology, in the classroom will enhance instruction and give students tools for the future.
“It’s going to give us more options to expose our kids to great learning tools and put devices in their hands that are going to be part of the future,” Fisher said. “Preparing them now, utilizing them now, will prepare them for a stronger future.”
Before giving iPads to ACS, Hill gave the devices to all students at Dallas Christian School. Giving the iPads to ACS, Hill said, is part of a broader vision to help encourage technology in the classroom in all schools, K-12, in America.
“This was not about us deciding to give a gift of some iPads to a school. This was about us changing the way that we are educating our kids,” Hill said. “It’s got to start somewhere, and it might as well start in our backyard, and so Abilene Christian Schools was the right place,;it was the right fit.”
And Abilene Christian Schools already is on the forefront of iPad use.
Daniel Austin, junior at ACS, said his honors physics class already uses the iPad for research and presentations. He said he enjoyed using the iPad but anticipates next year, when he’ll be able to take the device home.
Hill said he thinks technology like the iPad and iPod touch challenges the minds of young people and accelerates learning at a high, rapid pace.
“I believe this technology stimulates learning, and I believe that you can read and learn more on this iPad than you can out of print text,” Hill said.
For now, ACS faculty are learning how to implement the iPads in the classroom for students next semester. Fisher said faculty will attend summer training sessions at ACU’s K-12 Digital Learning Institute, and some faculty members traveled to Austin this weekend to a technology convention.
“There’s a very strong buzz of excitement from faculty right now, from first learning the tools that are a part of the device and how it can impact learning and how they can share that with their students,” Fisher said.
Coley also teaches speech at ACU and said he plans to use the iPad in class to download topics and complete more assignments electronically, allowing more time for speaking.
Kay Robbins, director of curriculum and teacher at ACS, said the school also plans to look into using digital textbooks and other digitized books for book reports – an idea Austin said he was all for.
“I definitely think they’d use that eventually,” Austin said. “It would be a lot more convenient.”