District 103 concerned about students playing games on iPads
The App Store program will be deactivated on all student iPads to prevent game purchases.
The change was prompted by a March survey of students, teachers and parents about the district's evolving 1-to-1 computer initiative, in which students are assigned district-owned computers to use in class and elsewhere.
The survey revealed students are too often distracted from their work by games on their iPads, said Katie Reynolds, the district's assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction. Reynolds said she's heard of students playing games in class instead of doing work or listening to their teachers.
School board President Gary Gordon supports the games ban.
"As this initiative advances, we want to ensure it is used to enhance the educational experience provided by the district's educators and minimize the potential distractions," Gordon said.
The move was announced during Tuesday's school board meeting at Wright Junior High School.
The district launched a pilot 1-to-1 program in 2012 for students at each of its three schools. It expanded over time to include students in all grades except kindergarten.
Students can rent iPads from the district or bring them from home.
Starting in the 2017-18 term, all first-grade students will rent district-owned iPads. A rent-to-own option will be available, too.
The March survey aimed to gather feedback from students, teachers and parents about the 1-to-1 program. The data will be used to adjust the program's implementation, develop training for teachers and create classes for parents that will focus on troubleshooting technical issues and creating rules for iPad use at home, according to a memo from Reynolds to the school board.
In addition to addressing the gaming issue, the survey revealed parents are concerned about not being able to review their children's work on the iPads as well as they could when homework assignments were done on paper.
"Parents don't have as much a sense of what their kids are doing," Gordon said.
Gordon said he's seen his son, a seventh-grader at Wright, using an iPad at home but couldn't immediately tell whether the boy was doing homework or something not related to school.
The survey also revealed students, teachers and parents are frustrated by having to solve technical issues they encounter, Reynolds said in her memo. Problems with online textbooks and the loss of work caused by crashing programs are especially troublesome, the memo indicated.