iPad Program

Lower School iPad

The Academy has always considered technology to be an integral part of a well-rounded approach to student learning. In keeping with this tradition, each 6th-12th grade student is required to own an iPad for everyday classroom use.

iPads are used in all classrooms to support traditional methods of instruction as appropriate, and provide teachers, coaches, and staff who support them, a vehicle to present information to students in a way that is more relevant to their daily lives than has ever been possible before. Teachers can incorporate multimedia content with ease. Students have access to relevant resources (both online and downloaded from class websites) at any time of day or night. In addition to academic resources, iPads provide the capibility to support athletics and other co-curricular programs. Students in every discipline are able to produce their own multimedia–and traditional–content on a platform that is the same for every student and in every class.

Students keep assignments organized, take notes in written, typed, and audio or video formats, produce written and multimedia content for classes, read e-books, access resource materials from the Internet and teacher-produced references, and collaborate easily with both teachers and other students in the learning process.

May students purchase their iPads through MA?

No. Families may purchase an iPad on their own from Apple’s online store, the Apple Store in Birmingham, or any other local or reputable online retailer. Families may want to consider the Apple online store, if only for their offer of free engraving/personalization with the purchase of an iPad

How much will it cost to purchase an iPad?

The iPad is available in a variety of prices and configurations. Unless a student needs an iPad for some other reason at present, we recommend waiting to purchase one until shortly before the device will actually be needed–since models change at frequent intervals (and prices may, as well). Education discounts are not available from Apple for K-12 students, so you may find a lower total cost from a warehouse club or a reputable online vendor such as Amazon.com, MacMall.com, or others.

Do you recommend purchasing an extended warranty and/or loss and damage insurance?

We suggest purchasing an accidental-damage policy for iPads unless your homeowner’s insurance covers loss or damage from accidents. iPads may make a backpack lighter over time as traditional textbooks are supplemented or replaced with digital content, but they will always be more vulnerable to damage than textbooks. Consideration should be given to a sturdy protective case for the iPad, too. We also recommend purchasing either AppleCare+ (Apple’s extended warranty program that extends manufacturing defect/failure coverage from one year to two, phone support from 90 days to two years, and adds accidental damage coverage for two incidents during the two years) or an independent warranty service such as SquareTrade, Worth Avenue or BlueRaven. These and other insurance vendors’ policies have varying degrees of coverage, and you should check with your own agent and/or online for pricing for any of these options. AppleCare-branded coverage can be purchased from Apple or usually at a discount from other reputable online vendors.

Could a student use the first-generation iPad 1?

There are significant hardware limitations to the original iPad model (chiefly, no camera and a video format that is incompatible with secondary screens). Several other limitations of the original have been corrected in both newer versions of the iPad and in Apple's subsequent upgrades to the iPad operating system, iOS, and more functionality is being added with each new release. Please note, however, that we do not advise families who do not have an iPad now, and do not need one for some other purpose, to go out and purchase any iPad model until it is actually needed (the market changes as rapidly as the weather, or so it seems).

Can my child opt out of using the iPad?

The Academy is committed to using the iPad platform to supplement and enhance the traditional classroom experience, and each student on the Vaughn Road campus is required to have an iPad.

Will wi-fi be available everywhere on campus?

The Academy’s Wi-Fi network provides excellent coverage in all academic areas for a full campus complement of iPads.

If students already own another kind of tablet can they use it rather than an iPad?

We are committed to using the iPad platform in all 5th-12th grade classrooms and increasingly in K-4 grades thereafter. Those students who have another model tablet will experience some difficulty completing assignments that utilize features exclusive to the iPad. We will not be supporting other tablets.

Will my child still need a computer even if he/she has an iPad?

It is important to note that the iPad is not a replacement for a computer. The Academy has and will continue to provide access to fully-functional computers on campus to support specific programs. Students may feel more comfortable completing some assignments off campus on a computer.

I have a Windows PC at home, not a Mac; will the iPad work with my PC?

Yes, everything can work in the “cloud” now. If you also wish to sync data (and backup) to your home computer, the iPad requires the use of the iTunes program, which is a free download available for both Windows and Mac.

Will students and parents have instruction on using the iPad?

We will work with 6th grade students, new students in grades 6-12, and their parents before school starts to help them learn and manage their iPads.

Where may I find more references and video resources?

I know that students in grades 6-12 are required to have iPads, but will they be able to bring laptops to school as well?

No. Students should bring only their iPads to school. One of the main reasons why we have moved to iPads is to ensure that all students are operating on the same platform. Furthermore, allowing multiple devices for each student would weaken our network infrastructure and create the potential of further student distraction at school. That does not mean, however, that students can't use laptops that they already own for school work. We just would ask that laptops be left at home. Fortunately, thanks to Apple's iCloud or independent apps like Dropbox, the iPad is able to share files easily with laptops or desktops.

Does the school recommend that my child have a laptop or desktop at home?

That decision is left entirely to each family. The iPad is the only electronic device that the school will require, and we believe that all outside digital work required for the school will be able to be accomplished with the iPad. However, some families may decide that it is beneficial for the student to have a laptop or desktop at home to supplement their work on the iPad. If they do chose to purchase a laptop, then please understand that students should not plan to bring those laptops to school. Our computer labs will continue to be equipped with computers, and some work in yearbook, art and computer classes will likely require the use of one of the labs. Additionally, other classes will continue to take advantage of the laptops available in the Garzon Library for classwork. No homework should be assigned that will require more than an iPad; however, some students may wish, on their own initiative, to continue to work on projects for those classes at home on a computer rather than on an iPad.

My child isn't comfortable typing on an iPad. Is there anything that can be done to help with that?

Absolutely. While we expect that many students will be comfortable using the onscreen keyboard, wireless bluetooth keyboards are available as an accessory to the iPad. Apple sells stand alone keyboards on their website, and there are also some third-party cases available that include a keyboard. We will allow students to bring a bluetooth keyboard with them to school if they need to complete significant typing at school. However, there may be times at which a teacher may ask students using a keyboard to put that accessory away.

Why did MA choose to go with iPads instead of laptops?

While we certainly understand the attractiveness of laptops to many students and families, the iPad is going to be much more flexible as a learning tool for our students while at school. Unlike a laptop, the iPad can be used with much greater ease as a multimedia device. Furthermore, thanks to its touchscreen interface, the iPad can be used as a note-taking device and is far more interactive than a conventional laptop. Thanks to the its multimedia capabilities, the device can be used to record HD quality video and photos AND, at the same time, the device can be used to edit that footage into a professional-quality presentation. Finally, the iPad can be used as an e-text reader with far greater convenience than reading on a laptop. Certainly, students will still find uses for a home or school computer throughout their MA years and likely beyond. However, we strongly believe that our students will find powerful uses of the iPad in the years to come.