Southfield Christian students outfitted with iPads

By: Jennie Miller | Southfield Sun | Published February 8, 2012

 Maria Varano, Casey Lubiano and Emily Thrasher celebrate their team having the correct answer in the academic decathlon, which incorporated the use of their iPads.

Maria Varano, Casey Lubiano and Emily Thrasher celebrate their team having the correct answer in the academic decathlon, which incorporated the use of their iPads.

Photo by David Schreiber

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SOUTHFIELD — Tech-savvy Southfield Christian School has outfitted each of its nearly 200 high school students with iPads for academic use.

The school is making strides and is a ahead of the technology curve, Principal Sue Hoffenbacher said.

“I think it’ll be a standard before too long,” she said.

The $500 cost for each of the state-of-the-art tablet computers was folded into tuition, but not without running it past parents first.

“It’s set up as an iPad rental program,” Hoffenbacher said. “We’re charging families $125 a year to rent the iPad from us. It’s kind of a rent to own.”

“After four years of high school, then you get to keep it,” added Jenny Hoover, a Beverly Hills resident and parent of two Southfield Christian high school students who is thrilled with the idea. “It gives them some ownership — they’re responsible for them if they get broken. My kids love them. It’s a really, really great program.”

While it’s not required, every student is participating in the program.

“Every family is taking advantage — we said they didn’t have to, but everyone certainly wanted to be a part of this,” Hoffenbacher said.

There are a number of ways students have been able to utilize their iPads academically.

“They can do all kinds of stuff on there,” Hoover said. “They’re amazing little things.”

“In the classroom, a lot of times their teachers want to go on the Internet,” Hoffenbacher added. “There are so many resources on the Internet — especially in social studies — and students have been able to do that, without having to take them from the classroom and go to the computer lab. It’s also great for organizational purposes. They take notes on the iPad, email their teachers on there.”

The hope was for Apple to launch software that allows for textbooks to be downloadable on the iPad, something the company has said it will be implementing in the near future.

“This’ll be great when all the textbooks go digital,” Hoover said. “It’ll be great to do away with all that lugging around and taking all your books back and forth.”

While students are able to take the devices home with them at the end of the school day, at the end of each school year, they must be returned until the following year starts.

In order to launch the program, however, Southfield Christian needed to have funds up front to purchase 200 iPads and begin the rent-to-own process.

“We went to a couple donors and proposed the idea,” Hoffenbacher said. “We had to spend a lot of money in infrastructure here — upgrading our wireless to (allow) 200 mobile computers to handle our network. (The donors) wish to remain anonymous. It was very generous.”

This year’s rental fees will be used to purchase next year’s iPads for the incoming freshmen.

Representatives of the school attended the Michigan Association of Computer Users and Learning conference last fall.

“We are one of the few schools that are driving ahead on this,” Hoffenbacher said. “We’ll do the same thing this fall as we continue to learn and pass on to other schools. … I think everyone is going to be joining us on this journey.”

For more information about Southfield Christian School, which is located at 28650 Lahser, call (248) 357-3660 or visit www.southfieldchristian.org.
 

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