Florida school converts to iPad-based learning

Archbishop McCarthy High School in Florida has converted to iPad-based learning campus-wide.

"The Firetide wireless infrastructure lets our students use the iPad anywhere in the school at any time which is transforming everything we know about teaching and flipping traditional schooling upside down,” said Richard Jean, Archbishop McCarthy High School principal. “We are seeing higher levels of student motivation because the iPad is engaging, interactive and provides students with immediate feedback. What’s more, teachers can now match the instructional needs of every student from the advanced AP placement to the student that finds learning challenging, enabling each to learn and perform their own research successfully at their individual level and pace.”

Jean chose Firetide’s wireless infrastructure to upgrade the school’s old-fashioned wired Ethernet network because the bandwidth, security and dependability of Firetide’s technology is able to meet the multimedia demands of iPad educational applications for today and the future. In fact, Benham Security, a leading integrator in the security and surveillance fields and a trusted advisor for the Archdiocese of Miami, recommended Firetide to Jean after they conducted an exhaustive study of the various vendors.

Since the iPad network installation, school enrollment has increased by over 15 percent, considerably increasing the school’s revenue generation capabilities. On top of tuition, each parent pays $25 per month for the iPad program over the four years their child attends the school, amounting to total payments of $1,000. The funds pay for the iPad, the wireless network and the network upgrade. The best part is that each student gets to keep their iPad when they graduate.

Becoming an iPad school has also significantly reduced Archbishop’s teaching costs and the expenses parents have had to traditionally bear to ensure their children are receiving the best in education. As a result, the school has been able to completely eliminate the need for parents to purchase paper-based textbooks while decreasing the school’s own printing and paper cost as well. Jean reports over $50,000 in savings in the first year alone.

Textbooks on iPads not only decrease expenses as each book only costs $14.99 now compared to hundreds of dollars a year, but increase learning as well. The iBooks application allows for easy highlighting and annotation and enables quick dictionary lookups for words that need defining. The application can also display full-color, interactive, multimedia content which means audio, video, and 3D diagrams can be touched, rotated and explored. As a result, during a history lesson, a student can actually see what the modern day Roman coliseum looks like, and the 3D capabilities allows the student to virtually walk into and roam the structure at will.

Another way that the iPad is transforming the classroom is that teachers can now post a math problem by writing on their iPad in the back of the room that is projected on a large screen at the front of the room and on each student’s individual iPad simultaneously. The teacher can pick a student to illustrate how a problem is done, and as the student is working on the problem on his iPad, his work is also projected on the screen for the benefit of the rest of the class. As a result, teachers can observe student’s activities from the back of the room or move through the classroom asking question even as they are teaching coursework.

In addition, the iPad increases communications and collaborations with students and parents outside of school. The iTunes U application is used as a learning management console where teachers can post materials including syllabi, assignments, blog entries, updates, and anything they need to communicate with students. This adds a significant amount of content that anyone can have access to anywhere. At the same time, the iPad enables filters so that the school can control the content on or off-campus for all students, ensuring that students aren’t spending their time playing games or downloading inappropriate content.

“Teachers also don’t have to spend their time just transmitting content but can mentor students to develop critical thinking skills, to discriminate among sources of information, to bring contextual meaning to a situation, to think about consequences and to make careful judgments, ” Jean concluded.