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Chromebooks and iPads Recommended for Marlboro Classrooms

A special committee is recommending several wireless carts in each Marlboro school building.

The Marlboro Township Board of Education is looking to the future with mobile devices in classrooms.

In August, a special committee was formed by the BOE to look into different types of mobile devices in the classrooms and what these devices could bring to the learning experience.

Karen Kondek, Director of Curriculum and Instruction told the Board of Education in a September workshop meeting that the technology committee heard presentations from four different vendors, including Apple, Dell and Google Chrome.

After full days with both Apple and Google, the committee recommended using dual platforms and purchasing both Apple iPads and Google Chromebooks.

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"This is really a 3-year plan, so that by the year 2015 we can be on a one-to-one platform," Kondek said.

Kondek and the committee recommended the purchase of two mobile carts of iPad devices at the Marlboro Early Learning Center with 30 devices on each cart, and one iPad cart for each grade level at the elementary schools as well as one Chromebook cart for each grade level.

The committee recommended that Marlboro Middle School and Marlboro Memorial Middle School each receive nine Chromebook carts per building and three iPad carts per building.

"Teachers can use both platforms, students have the opportunity to use both platforms," Kondek said. "It gives a district like ours, where we are forward thinking and where we are looking to meet the needs of all of our students, the opportunity to use both of those platforms."

The amount of devices on each cart and in each school will depend on final prices and approval from the Board of Education.

The approved 2012-13 budget has new technology costs built in to the tune of $719,150, to prepare for digital state testing on the K-8 level in the coming years.

The NJ ASK standardized test for elementary students will be phased out by 2014, replaced with the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) test. The new assessment will be split into two parts, two months apart, and include digital assessment for some grade levels.

In the last year, Marlboro has been using a "Bring Your Own Device" program, which allows students in pilot schools to bring in electronics such as tablets and use them in the classroom.

Board President Michael Lilonsky said while the board has agreed that mobile devices are the right move, the biggest question is whether or not training teachers on dual platforms is possible in a specific period of time.

Kondek said staff development is critical, and the district can make it work well for teachers.

"Probably, teachers are going to be clamoring for more," Kondek said. 

Superintendent Dr. David Abbott said staff development and implementing a one-to-one platform goal in the schools should be done over the 3-year plan that has been laid out, and can tie into existing programs Google and Apple have for educational devices and teacher training.

"I am convinced that we are on the right path and this is the right thing for the schools to do at this time," Abbott said. 

The board is still considering what it will take to deploy two platforms at once, including the amount of bandwidth the district will need to place devices on one wireless network.

Robert September 19, 2012 at 12:51 PM
Changing world. I miss the good old days of a notebook and number 2 pencil.
JosephGhabourLaw September 19, 2012 at 01:10 PM
Ipads aren't as rugged as they should be. Having a good, solid case, would be wise. I've seen too many ipads killed by simply being dropped to the floor.
CPM September 21, 2012 at 05:05 PM
I wonder why Android based Tablets were not chosen (than you have Google providing the operating system for both. The best Android Tablets cost about $100 to $200 less, for the same memory, than IPad and provide the similar features (Internet search, read e-books, etc.). I hope the Board is getting a GREAT deal on the IPads.
PDS September 22, 2012 at 12:40 PM
Chromebooks have a much lower TCO thasn iPads, and are less of a headache to manage both for teachers/students and tech support staff. Chromebooks are also better as a teaching tool than iPads because of their collaborative paradigm. iPads are only worth considering in the case of lower ages where the kids can't type and find the use of a mouse/trackpad difficult.

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