Backpacks are feeling much lighter for students in one Schoharie County school district. As YNN's Maria Valvanis explains, iPads are students’ new educational tool.
SHARON SPRINGS, N.Y. -- Teacher Barbara Handy said, "It's brought a whole new life to the school. It's allowed students to do things they never thought possible before."
It's a whole new way of learning. Seventh through 12th grade students at the Sharon Springs Central School are trading in their textbooks for an iPad.
"It's been pretty good because you can do it all on one thing instead of a multitude of papers," said student Brenna Wilday.
Handy said, "In one of my classes, I send them a work sheet, they take it off the iPad, do it, send it back to me, I correct it, send the changes to them and it's all done electronically."
It's all part of a $215,000 pilot program, funded by BOCES state aid and a grant from Senator James Seward's office. Students are expected to use their iPads for class work, as well as homework, something many of them didn't have the opportunity to do before.
"We estimate that less than 50 percent of our students have internet access at their homes. We hope it's successful here this year so it can happen elsewhere next year," said Superintendent Patterson Green.
And in order for it to be successful, students must comply with school rules. Security programs have been put in place, blocking social media sites and inappropriate music.
Teacher Tom Yorke said, "It's monitored not only by me, but also a tech department within the program itself, to make sure kids are focusing on positive habits."
But once students walk outside school doors, with parental permission, they will have access to restricted social media sites.
"This light speed filter that we're using has those controls, with parental sign-off, having students be able to access Facebook, Twitter, outside of school hours and on the weekends," said Green.
And perhaps the most beneficial part of the entire program…
"There's not many excuses you can say for not getting your homework in."