Presenters: Brad Smith and Steven Wilbanks of Westlake High School and Carl Hooker and Diane Carter of Eanes ISD
“Get [the iPads] in the teachers’ hands early. Give the teachers at least a semester to review and try out.” — Carl Hooker, Eanes ISD
A panel of technology staff members, a teacher and a student discussed the Eanes ISD Westlake Initiative for Innovation (WIFI) pilot project that started in 2011. The pilot involved issuing iPads to every junior and senior student at Westlake High School. The devices are managed by students logging in with their iTunes accounts. (The district is researching how it could roll out iPads to students younger than 13 who aren’t older enough to open an iTunes account.)
Teacher Brad Smith and student Steven Wilbanks offered insights into how technology is truly experienced in the classroom. Wilbanks confirmed that the students easily adapted to the iPads; he said they especially enjoyed the ability to finish all parts of a classroom assignment on one device that they can take anywhere. Smith also said he enjoyed using Google Docs for school projects; he pointed out that he had less success with Dropbox, a popular online file-sharing tool. To demonstrate classroom technology in action to the SXSWedu audience, Wilbanks also received a planned Facetime video chat from a fellow student for a quick conversation about an upcoming class assignment.