CHARLESTON, W.Va. — With more than 170 million units sold, the iPad has revolutionized mobile computing since its release in 2010. While Apple’s market share plummeted to about 36 percent last year with the emergence of cheaper Android-based tablets, it can be said that the iPad has changed the way people work, play and communicate.
Four years after being introduced to consumers around the globe, the trend-setting tablet is poised to drastically change the way Raleigh County students learn by turning textbooks, plastic foam dioramas and library card catalogs into things of the past.
As part of a new digital learning initiative, the county has distributed more than 10,000 iPads throughout its 28 school-system. While the program is still in its infancy, the state department of education hopes all of West Virginia can copy Raleigh County and go digital in the near future.
On any given weeknight, Maddie Bostick and Abigail Roop help each other do homework on their iPads by using a video chat application called FaceTime. In fact, the two Beckley-Stratton Middle School eighth graders use their iPads to do almost all of their schoolwork.
They aren’t the only ones.
Bostick, Roop, and all other students in Raleigh County have a school-distributed iPad thanks to a local levy and state funds that allocate money for technology purchases for the classroom.
In February, residents voted in favor of continuing an education levy that has been in effect since 1941.
Jeff Webb, network administrator for Raleigh County Schools, said in addition to levy money, federal and state funds have helped pay for the system’s digital upgrade.
At the federal level, the schools receive money through several sources, such as the E-Rate Program, which makes telecommunication and Internet access affordable and accessible to schools and libraries.
The state Legislature also allocates funds for county schools to purchase technology and digital tools.
Locally, running levies on a ballot are a county-by-county decision, but not all counties have levies and those with education levies don’t always fund technology.
Raleigh County just happens to have hit upon a perfect blend of government funding dedicated to digital learning.
As a result, the county was able to purchase approximately 10,300 iPads last year, as well as MacBooks for teachers and AppleTVs for each classroom.
For grades three through 12, iPads are distributed on a one-to-one basis…