By JUDY SHERARD
VICTORIA -- Laptop or iPad, the device might vary, but Ellis County's three school districts provide high school students with take-home computers.
Victoria USD 432 is the only Ellis County district to provide students iPads.
The district initially was considering a pilot project for middle school students, said Stuart Moeckel, who's in his fourth year as technology director at the district.
A group of teachers approached Superintendent Linda Kenne about getting iPads for the high school students, too, and the board of education decided to purchase iPads for all students in grades 7-12 this year. That program is proving successful, and the district is thinking about moving the program down to the elementary school as well.
"The kids really hit the ground running," Moeckel said. "The technology came from the teachers. If the teachers are excited, the kids are excited."
Before this year, high school students had laptops to use at school, but they had to check them in at the end of the day."
The iPads "go home with the kids," Moeckel said.
In a recent history class, teacher Dylan Dronberger used Apple TV to mirror photos on his iPad of noted blacks for students to identify for a quiz. Students recorded their answers on their iPads.
Meanwhile in Christine Sander's eighth-grade math class across the hall, students used a geometry pad to make an organizer for themselves about the basic building blocks of geometry.
"It's really great for kids," Sander said. "I've got a student gone today, and I can use this ... to send her the lesson. Even if they don't have Wi-Fi at home, they can open it in the morning. There's no wasting time there."
Sander's students also were using a program they could open and write on.
"It's a great tool for illustrations (to) use different applications," she said.
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Both Hays USD 489 and Ellis USD 388 districts provide high school students with laptops they can take home.
Though the number gets smaller all the time, a few students don't have access to computers every day, said Steve Herrman, Ellis technology director.
By issuing each student a laptop, "we know they are available every day."
This is the ninth year Hays High students have been issued district laptops, said Todd Bryant, USD 489 technology director.
The ratio at Hays Middle School is one laptop for each student, but students don't take them home, Bryant said.
Ellis elementary students have access to laptops on carts, and Hays elementary schools have computer labs.
The Ellis school district isn't considering a switch to iPads in the near future.
"When choosing a device, you have to look at what you want it to do. iPads don't do everything we need such as running our own software for drafting and Web classes," Herrman said.
Moeckel said Victoria High School has 30 laptops on carts students can use for long writing assignments, photo journalism or assessments.
The Hays district's technology lease expires in two years, and Bryant didn't rule out switching to a tablet device.
"I'm not convinced an iPad will give us what we have now," Bryant said.
That doesn't mean the district doesn't have iPads. Some administrators and staff members have iPads in addition to laptops, and 30 iPads were donated for use in special education classes.
"An iPad is supplemental to a laptop," Bryant said. "For grades K-2, an iPad might be a solution."