McGregor ISD Students Get iPads to Augment Traditional Classes

More kids in central Texas are back to school, but packing an extra piece of hardware this year: an iPad.

And it doesn't come cheap.

It's not the first district to do it in central Texas -- Midway ISD bought 8,000 of the devices this year -- but McGregor ISD just bought iPads for every student in 8th grade or above.

Senior Jaret White plans to go after a mechanical engineering degree after he finishes high school in McGregor.

So he says his new iPad is the perfect way to start using new tech.

"Really just being able to keep up with technology around us in the real world," he said, "so we're not really in a bubble at school."

MISD bought 550 of the devices for all 8th through 12th-graders. Seniors and 8th-graders got them Thursday, the rest go out Friday.

"This is your school supply. This is your textbooks, your pen, your paper, your outlet to the Internet," Melissa Seward, the high school's technology director, told students as they learned how to use them.

It's a way to change from a traditional classroom to a more interactive and technological approach.

"In some classes it's going to be a lot easier to do something because of the way the class is structured," said MHS principal Robert White

Social studies and languages should be pretty easy. Math, not so much.

"I think the biggest thing will be the replacement of textbooks," said senior Dillon Hensel, "not having to carry around a big, bulky backpack."

The iPads won't completely replace paper; they're more of a supplement. An expensive one.

With half a million dollars invested in the program, the district isn't taking any chances. They bought hard OtterBox covers for every single one. The iPads will never leave them.

And if kids have problems using them, the student-run iHelp Team is on hand.

"It's just so that everybody is able to use the iPads the same," said Kaci Thane, a member of the team.

The district also wants students to own their iPads. They can put music, pictures, apps, whatever on the devices as long as there's room for the educational stuff.

"Just getting the use and the practice with it is going to help us a lot," said Jaret White, so the next step to college isn't quite so big.

Every student has to pay a $50 insurance fee before they get their iPad.

If they break it, the first fix is free. The second is another $50, the third $100. The fourth time you break one, you've bought it.


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