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[January 25, 2013]
Cardinal School's tech director likes West Burlington's Kuno tablet plan
Jan 25, 2013 (The Hawk Eye - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- WEST BURLINGTON -- The technology director from another southeast Iowa school district agrees with West Burlington's decision to get formal bids on Android Kuno mobile tablets.
"With the devices, you can push out homework and videos to the students," said Cameron Chamberlin, technology director for the Cardinal School District in Eldon, about 75 miles west of Burlington. "If a student is offline, they can still use the device." The Cardinal School District rolled out the Kuno devices in the fall. The district's four-year contract with Apple was up, and although other options were examined, Chamberlin said the Kunos were the best choice.
"We had Macbooks, but the students were able to circumvent the administration and install games, and they were able to get around the filters," Chamberlin said.
With the Kuno tablets, Chamberlin said there is not as much freedom.
"The Kuno devices have (Child Internet Protection Act) filters integrated into the tablet, so students cannot go around the filter," Chamberlin said.
With the devices, students can retrieve class resources, such as documents, audio and video clips and web links, even when Internet access is not available. Devices can be updated with new content every day -- even every hour.
The tablets come with Curriculum Loft, a curriculum management system that allows teachers to sync notes, lectures, videos and assignments to each student's tablet.
There are plenty of positives with the devices, but one negative, Chamberlin pointed out, is the protective cases.
"The cases didn't protect the devices as much as we would have liked," he said. "There has been more damage than I would have wanted, but we are working through that." One tip Chamberlin has for West Burlington is to get the teachers involved with as much professional development as possible.
"That is important to get everyone on the same page," Chamberlin said. "Curriculum Loft was hard for the staff at Cardinal to understand at first. Some of the teachers picked it up faster than others, and they helped the teachers who had a harder time." Chamberlin does some of the professional development, and at one point, Curriculum Loft conducted the professional development sessions.
"We still have follow-up professional development sessions, but we don't do anything with the Curriculum Loft people," he said. "We do it on our own as a school system." West Burlington Superintendent David Schmitt believes in the Kuno tablets.
"With our thorough research, we have found the exact device that we needed," Schmitt said during a meeting earlier this week. "It all boils down to considering instruction first and finding the device that fits our instructional needs." At the Feb. 19 school board meeting, West Burlington School officials will give the school board some final details on the devices.
"We are confident at the regular February meeting, we can make a formal recommendation for the number of Kunos, how we will insure them, how we will pay for them and what the implementation plan will be," Schmitt told the school board earlier this week.
If the board approves the formal recommendation, professional development for teachers will take place in the spring, and students will get their devices in the fall.
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