Three Beverly Hills Schools Using iPads

Horace Mann School is also beginning an iPad classroom integration, while Beverly Hills High School intends to launch its own pilot program.

iPads being used at Hawthorne School in Beverly Hills. Credit: BHUSD
iPads being used at Hawthorne School in Beverly Hills. Credit: BHUSD
Beverly Hills Unified School District is carefully rolling out a strategic iPad pilot program this 2013-14 school year with participating K-8 schools Hawthorne, Beverly Vista and El Rodeo. 

"Ultimately we want students to be creative, critical thinkers, communicators and collaborators," said Supt. Gary Woods. "iPads and tablets will be the new technology to help students advance into twenty-first century learning. We organize ourselves in an e‐world these days. We exchange documents and speak electronically on computers, tablets, cell phones and other devices. Within an e‐world, learning doesn’t stop at the end of school, it continues throughout the evening and weekend. We need to help prepare students for this shift.”

Prerequisites for the pilot included financial support of the school site PTA’s for purchase of the iPads and apps, the support of the school board, district and site administrators, teachers and IT staff. Plans were created for wireless networking, ways to manage apps and research appropriate applications for specific grade levels and curricular areas.

In addition, teachers created digital citizenship standards and methods to meaningfully integrate the use of this technology into their grade level curriculum and common core standards, according to school officials.

“Students learn best by doing,” according to Chris Hertz, director of BHUSD student services. “Doing makes learning fun. For example, in creating digital presentations on the iPad, electronically sending the project to the teacher for review, then projecting the presentation to the class for discussion, allows learning to be solidified. Demonstrating our knowledge is when we learn best.”

BHUSD studied iPad and tablet adoption at other school districts, including Manhattan Beach Unified School District, which is similar to the Beverly Hills Unified District in terms of demographics and size.

MBUSD allowed BHUSD staff to visit, observe, and study strategies to overcome the stumbling blocks in the beginning of their roll out and how they perfected the program that they have today.

“Learning from others' mistakes, experiences and successes is a valuable tool and saves us a lot of time and money,” added Hertz, who is supporting the pilot study at Beverly Hills.

Hawthorne School is the model for the district, being the first to integrate the iPads into its curriculum. School Principal Kathy Schaeffer, Assistant Principal Christian Fuhrer and teachers at Hawthorne prepared a comprehensive plan anticipating potential problems. Over the past year, they read articles, tested apps, visited other schools using iPads, and met in teams to work through questions and solutions to be ready for the start of this school year.

Students at Hawthorne School use iPads to do research, publish work, create multimedia presentations, practice reading and math skills and read books.

Students and teachers also participate in an online educational community where they blog about assignments and share ideas with classmates and their teachers. The students have learned how to submit work digitally so teachers can provide more immediate feedback. This has also assisted in the overall goal of moving toward a paperless classroom. Through the process of iPad integration, school officials in the Hawthorne community discovered many benefits, including increased student engagement, greater and more immediate access to information and increased productivity.

Beverly Vista School purchased an iPad cart that holds 30 tablets to be shared among students, with the initial intent being to utilize the tablets for their Accelerated Reading Pilot Program. 

The El Rodeo School PTA purchased an iPad cart and provided an iPad to each teacher.

Horace Mann School is also in the beginning phases of iPad integration and is planning on expanding their implementation in the near future.

Beverly Hills High School is currently installing the proper WiFi infrastructure and access points with the intent to launch a small pilot of their own.

There are three types of iPad or tablet usage under consideration for the district:
  • A shared cart model where a traveling iPad cart/docking station is actually rolled around from classroom to classroom on an as‐needed basis.
  • One‐to‐one program whereby every student is provided their own iPad in the classroom, and perhaps to take home.
  • A BYOD (bring your own device) system which requires all students to manage their own devices. Manhattan Beach Unified School District has chosen the BYOD model with 70 percent of the iPads being family‐owned with the district providing iPads for the remaining students to borrow.

The Beverly Hills Unified School District is taking a very conservative and strategic approach for iPad implementation. The pilot study will help determine which tablet usages are best for our school sites, and which apps and learning management systems best fit into the curriculum by grade level.

The Board of Education will then need to determine when and how funding can be provided on a large‐scale roll out.

For more information, visit the district's website.


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