CPS Gets Nod in iPad 2 Announcement

Tech director says students' improving in math, science since iPad debuted

By Lisa Balde
|  Thursday, Mar 3, 2011  |  Updated 11:09 AM CDT
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CPS Gets Nod in iPad 2 Announcement

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FORT WORTH, TEXAS - APRIL 3: Chip Hanna, 26, browses the internet on his newly purchased iPad device while visiting a Starbucks Coffee location April 3, 2010 in Fort Worth, Texas. Debuting today, the much heralded iPad looks to be a bridge between a laptop and smartphone. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Chip Hanna

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If Chicago has ever picked a side in the "I'm a Mac"/"I'm a PC" argument, it gave a hint on Wednesday. 

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs pointed to Chicago Public Schools' use of iPads in the classroom during the iPad 2 announcement.

CPS Tech Director John Connolly made an appearance in a video shown during Tuesday's launch touting the iPad as "the future of education."

"In a short amount of time, we're seeing gains as high as 50 to 60 percent in reading, math and science with our classrooms using iPads," said Connolly in the recorded message.

It's a claim that couldn't be immediately backed up or clarified by CPS, but spokeswoman Anna Vargas said "preliminary data looks positive."

"We hope to have more complete data at the end [of the year]," she said.

Assessment and measurement tools were a part of the plan last year when the iPads were introduced to students and teachers, Connolly explained last year.

Still, teachers say they have seen increased engagement and enthusiasm among the students using the devices.

"Science, biology specifically, change is dynamic and is changing based on new research, new technology, new instruments, etcetera.  So our textbooks tend to be outdated quickly.  So if we have access to new research findings, projects being worked on, finished, we can actually give student up to date information," said Dr. Lynne El-Aim Muhammad, a Whitney Young Magnet High School science teacher who helped write the grant to get funding for the iPads. 

"I like that the learning doesn't stop in classroom," added seventh grade science teacher Chad Salomon.  "The textbook they take home is static, one way communication. This allows them to blog, share on Google docs, communicate whenever they need to."

More than 20 CPS schools received iPads for classroom use thanks to federal grant funds. 

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