Conyers Middle School teachers, clockwise from back right, Tiara Ferrell, Michael Xydias, David Crumbley and Heather Pittman, recently received iPads as part of Rockdale County Public Schools pilot Apple iPad implementation.
CONYERS -- New technology in Rockdale County Public Schools is bringing teachers to the next level.
Already, schools are equipped with 21st century technologies, laptops and wireless capabilities, and now officials are trying to delve even deeper into available digital technologies, like iPads and accompanying applications for education.
"We want to take more advantage of digital resources for all students," said Gene Baker, assistant superintendent for School Improvement at RCPS. "This is not just about technology -- this is about individualized learning for students and individualizing the experience."
Recently, RCPS distributed 10 Apple iPads to each of its facilities as part of a pilot program. Principals distributed them equitably between grade levels and content areas based on a demonstrated history of technology integration, being technologically savvy and innovated thinking, among other skills.
Selected teachers will be able to share with other teachers and have focus groups.
The iPads were set up with some texts, apps and other features. Teachers can download or purchase new apps, and some may be purchased through individual schools or the system, Baker said.
The teachers also have the ability to wirelessly connect to new Apple TV programs to bring up digital content for students. They also can connect to the interactive boards that already are set up in the classroom.
Baker said that some other teachers already bring their personal devices to the classroom, and some schools have purchased sets through school funding to enhance learning, so this adds to the pool of devices. Some students also bring digital devices to classes to use educationally.
The cost of the new iPads, Apple TVs and connection equipment was about $175,000, which was paid for using SPLOST dollars.
Eventually, more iPads and other digital devices are expected to be added to classrooms.
At the end of this school year or at the beginning of the next school year, Baker said he hopes to have another iPad drop to more teachers. Future technology will be purchased with various funding, including SPLOST funds, grants, the federal reimbursement E-Rate program and other ways.
"Funding is always an issue; funding for technology is always a challenge," Baker said. "I think it will involve all funding sources."
In addition to using classroom iPads now, students ultimately will be learning off their own personal digital equipment that will be constantly updated and contain interactive material, Baker said. He added that more and more textbooks are going away, and teachers are building digital resources and texts.
"We're moving toward making sure we are keeping up and being on the cutting edge of how students learn," Baker said. "It's going to happen."
In the future, RCPS also will communicate more with parents digitally, through apps and online support, he said.