The Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) district in Virginia has started a pilot program, utilizing a Federal grant to purchase iPads to roll out among preschoolers and kindergarten students in the county, FCPS announced.

The county said the pilot program will take place at Lake Anne Elementary, Riverside Elementary, and Bailey’s Primary schools, with each school focusing on a different iPad feature and how it can be utilized for learning.

“These students currently use heavier laptops but, at this age, most students are already familiar with touch screens, making it easier for these young learners to navigate, transport, and share their thinking,” FCPS said in its announcement.

Bailey’s Primary School will have its students focus on utilizing the camera for learning purposes, with the given example of students learning about shapes and then utilizing the camera to go on a scavenger hunt to find those same shapes.

Lake Anne Elementary School will focus on using “pre-loaded, age-appropriate” apps on the iPad to develop students’ literacy, using apps that can also be accessed at home and continued with a family member.

Riverside Elementary School will take a more creative approach to utilize the iPads. The school’s portion of the pilot program will focus on how to help students utilize iPads to creatively share ideas and their understanding of concepts. This will involve using the iPad for things like creating art or videos to show that understanding.

“The goal is for teachers to learn how to best integrate the devices into the school day while still providing hands-on and engaging instruction where students can interact and build relationships with their peers and teachers,” FCPS said. “Technology adds an increasingly important component to student learning.”

The teachers involved in the pilot will receive training and the students will be able to take the devices home “as needed.” In the 2022-23 school year, FCPS plans on expanding the pilot to all schools in its district with a kindergarten and preschool program.

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Lamar Johnson
Lamar Johnson
Lamar Johnson is MeriTalk SLG's Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.