With the packaging barely off the Apple iPads, students of the Community in Schools Academy in Pembroke were already logged onto the Internet and taking photos of each other.
This collaboration between the academy and UNC Pembroke has put 25 of the popular iPads in the hands of the academy’s middle school teachers and students, along with a high quality Smart Board and large television monitor in a special distance-education classroom that UNCP will establish at the school.
The iPads will move on a charging cart from classroom to classroom among the academy’s more than 100 students. During the evening, courses for UNCP students studying middle grades education will take place in the distance-education classroom. What other collaborations may result is anybody’s guess.
“This came as a surprise,” said CIS Academy Principal Ronald Bryant. “A very pleasant surprise.”
Bryant said the students will get some hands-on time with the iPads this year, and next year, teaching and learning with wireless computers will begin in earnest.
“We’re excited to have such advanced technology,” Bryant said. “The university also promised some training for our staff.”
On UNCP’s side, the project was a collaboration between several departments: the School of Education, the Division of Information Technology and the Office of Distance Education. They were searching for a new distance-education site that would also serve as a community outreach project, said Dr. Alfred Bryant, chair of the School of Education’s Department of School Administration and Counseling.
“A group of us got together to discuss the project, and we didn’t have to look far,” Dr. Bryant said. “The CIS Academy is next door to the university, and the charter school needed some help with technology.
“DoIT consulted on the planning and agreed to do the installation too,” he said. “Without them and (School of Education) Dean (Leah) Fiorentino’s approval, it could not have happened.”
The price tag for the project is approximately $25,000. Dencie Lambdin, CIS director, said it was a fabulous gift for the 15-year-old charter school.
“We’ve partnered with the university for 10 years, but this is the icing on the cake,” Lambdin said. “Our students will have access to state-of-the-art technology, and even more important, we have a growing collaboration with the university.
“The more university students and faculty we have in our school, the more our students will benefit,” she said. “We really appreciate this great gift.”
Education faculty responsible for planning the project included Drs. Patrick Hannigan, Billie Harringtonand Jeffrey Warren.From the Division of Information Technology, Robert Hughes and Cindy Saylor also contributed.
Education Dean Fiorentinodesignated full funding for the project. The partnership will include the scheduling of the course Philosophy and Curriculum of Middle Grades in the new classroom.
“This course will provide a clear connection between the needs of the middle level students and the needs of the school,” Dr. Bryant said. “As such, CIS Academy will serve as both a distance-education delivery site and a school laboratory environment for UNCP education students with an interest in middle grades instruction.”