iPad Transition FAQs

Upper Arlington Schools launched a one-to-one technology program during the 2015-2016 school year as part of the district’s innovative strategic plan. This program provides students with one-to-one access to a technological device that appropriately supports and maximizes their learning.

In anticipation of the four-year lease for the first set of devices concluding at the end of the current school year, the district began the process of researching devices for its next lease. With today’s evolving technological landscape and the Upper Arlington community’s investment in future-ready learning environments through the implementation of the first phase of the master plan, it was critically important that the district select a personal device that best supports future-ready instructional methods.

After several months of research and site visits by a committee comprised of teachers, administrators and parents, the district announced in November of 2018 that students in all grades, kindergarten through senior year, will be moving to iPads beginning with the 2019-2020 school year.

Below is a list of frequently asked questions related to the transition. 
What prompted the district to consider a switch from laptops to iPads in grades 4 through 12? 
The one-to-one technology program debuted in 2015-2016, and the first set of devices was secured through a four-year lease from Apple.  That lease comes to an end at the end of the current school year, making the fall of 2018 the appropriate time to research what type of devices to secure in the district’s second lease.

What is the reason the district decided to move to iPads?
As staff members reviewed device options, it became clear that the laptops available today have very similar specifications to those included in the original lease four years ago.  However, during this same four-year period, the capabilities of the iPad have grown significantly, providing additional learning opportunities and increased flexibility for students.

A committee of teachers, principals and parents visited several schools to explore the use of iPads as a baseline device for all students.  Committee members reported seeing many benefits to the use of iPads including increased student engagement and collaboration; enhanced note-taking abilities that can combine text, sketches, photos, audio, video and animation; the ability for students to interact with academic content and demonstrate mastery through kinesthetic experiences; and increased device/classroom management capabilities.

When will students transition to iPads?
The change to iPads will begin with the start of the 2019-2020 school year.  Students currently in grades four through 11 will keep their district laptops through the summer and exchange them for a new district iPad in August 2019. 

How will students write essays and complete other assignments that involve a significant amount of typing?
Students will have access to three complete productivity suites - Microsoft Office 365, which includes Word, Excel and Powerpoint; Apple’s iWork, which includes Keynote, Pages and Numbers; and the G-Suite, which includes Google Docs, Slides and Sheets.

Students will be able to obtain keyboards from the school on either a short-term or long-term basis.  Students may also find they prefer to dictate their writing assignments or use the onscreen keyboard. 

Will students be able to use district-purchased keyboards?
Yes, students will be able to use keyboards from the school on either a short-term or long-term basis.  

What will happen with students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) and 504 plans?
As we have in the past, we will continue to provide students with specific learning needs identified through IEPs and 504 plans with the assistive technology they need, as determined by the team.

What about students who take specialized coursework such as Advanced Multimedia or AP Computer Science?
There are a few courses at the high school that require access to highly specialized desktop or laptop computers.  Students in these courses will continue to have access to these specialized devices while enrolled in the class.

Will the fees be lower for iPads than laptops?
The only direct cost to families associated with the one-to-one technology program is the optional technology protection plan.  This year, families who opted to purchase the protection plan paid a $70 fee.  The technology protection plan will be available to families again during the 2019-2020 school year at a reduced rate.

Will students be able to print from their iPads?
Printing access for students will not change from the current experience.  Students will be able to print from home to an air printer or from a desktop device in the media center.  One of the goals of cloud-based document sharing is to reduce printing costs and paper waste.

I prefer my laptop because the screen is bigger - can I keep it?
The difference in screen size between the iPad and the current MacBook Air is approximately one inch.   All current student devices will be collected and exchanged for the iPad in August.  

I write all of my essays in Microsoft Word, but I understand that can’t be done on an iPad.
Students will have access to Office 365 on the iPads. The Office suite contains Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote.  Additionally, other productivity suites like G-Suite and Apple’s iWork Suite will be available. 

What version of the iPad will the students be getting?
The students will receive a 32 GB iPad 6th Generation.

Will students be permitted to download other appropriate and approved educational apps on their iPad?
We anticipate a tiered-access approach to non-school related apps.  We will be working over the next several months to define this for different age groups of students.

Will teachers utilize the option for textbooks on the iPad?
We already use some eBooks and other online options.  Moving to electronic books is a discussion curriculum review committees will address as cycles come due.

Since laptops are being phased out, is there an option for students to purchase them from the district?
The district is required to sell personal property, such as laptop computers, in accordance with Ohio law.  Unfortunately, Ohio law does not permit the district to sell such property directly to students and their families on an individual basis.

Can parents purchase a specific keyboard or case for their students to use with the iPad?
Yes, but it is not necessary.  The district will provide a high-quality case to all students.  In addition, the district will make keyboards available to all students.  They may borrow the keyboards on a short-term basis for a certain project, or they may borrow them for the full length of time students have the device.  

The district will prepare a list of comparable quality cases and keyboards that will be acceptable for use within the optional device protection plan.  Families will have the option of declining the district-provided case and keyboard and purchasing items off of this list.

How will students develop keyboarding skills without a keyboard?
The district will provide keyboards to students.  They may borrow them on a short-term basis for a certain project, or they may borrow them for the full length of time they have the device.  In addition, students may opt to use the onscreen keypad or explore newer text entry methods such as dictation.

Will the iPads be locked down from games and instant messaging during class time for middle school students?
The iPads provide educators more options than laptops for restricting the use of apps like Messenger. The iPads also provide additional tools for teachers that can help reduce distractions in the classroom and make it easier to share materials and information.

Aren’t iPads more fragile than laptops?  What will the optional insurance program cover?
The district will provide a high-quality case for each iPad.  In speaking with representatives from other districts using iPads, the rate of damage reports and cost of repairs are actually substantially lower than UA Schools has experienced in recent years with laptops.
For more information, please view the optional Technology Protection Plan for the 2019-2020 school year. (Updated August 2019)

I’ve heard the decision to switch to iPads has a lot to do with the drain on funds by the building campaign.  Is that true?
No.  The upcoming construction projects are funded by the bond issue approved by the community in November 2017.  All six projects are on budget and on schedule.  

Will the iPads work with an off-brand stylus?
Yes.  The iPad 6th generation will work with any brand stylus.

I feel the storage on iPads is limited compared to a laptop - what is the plan for that?
Cloud storage will be available through Google Drive, iCloud and Microsoft OneDrive.

Why does the district suggest that students may not want an external keyboard?  It seems like everyone will have to have one for essays and research projects.
Students will have access to multiple methods of input on an iPad- the onscreen full keyboard for traditional typing, the split screen keyboard to ‘text’ content into a document, an optional external keyboard device and the audio speech to text method.  Each student will be able to decide which method works best for them.  

Why weren’t students and more parents involved in this decision?
The recent device selection process involved the same stakeholders as the initial device selection process in 2015.  The district’s technology team conducted research, and then a team of educators went on site visits to see the devices in use and discuss the experience with the teachers and students using those devices.

This process parallels the selection of any type of curricular resource.  Staff members research available resources and then conduct a some type of pilot or test of the materials that seem most suitable.  In this case, a team of teachers, principals and parents visited four sites that use iPads with students.  The team members were able to talk with both educators and students during these visits, as well as try out the devices on their own.  Following positive feedback from the team, district leadership concluded iPads were the best device for personalizing education.

Will students be included as plans for the iPad transition are finalized?
Yes, students will be asked to provide input in a variety of areas as the details of the iPad program are finalized.  In addition, students in grades six through eleven will be able to apply to take part in the UA Mobile Mentors program during the fourth quarter of the 2018-19 school year.  These students will participate in an all-day student training session at the end of the third quarter,  receive their iPad at this training session, and use the devices during the fourth quarter.  These students will provide essential feedback throughout the fourth quarter, help the district develop training for other students in August, and be available as mentors throughout the 2019-2020 school year.  

Will the iPads have pencils?
All students will be provided one stylus at distribution.  Families may opt to purchase an Apple pencil for their students to use with the district-issued iPad, but it is not necessary.  

Will state testing be administered on the iPads?  If so, will all students have keyboards for the tests?
Yes, testing will be done on the iPads and students will be able to use either the onscreen keyboard or an external keyboard.  Our current third grade students have these options now.  Some prefer the onscreen keyboard, and some prefer the external keyboard. 

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