WHERE AMERICA'S DAY BEGINS: Last Wednesday, Auburn, ME, hosted what may be the nation's first conference examining the educational benefits of iPads in primary grade classes with its sold-out Leveraging Learning: the iPad in Primary Grades Institute. About 115 participants from around the world--as far as India--attended the three-day conference to delve into leadership, professional development, pedagogical, research, and management issues surrounding such an ambitious roll-out. The Auburn School Department made waves this past spring by announcing Advantage 2014, a 1:1 implementation plan costing almost a quarter of a million dollars, which would put iPads into the hands of every Auburn kindergartner by the end of this school year.
Maine has long been at the forefront of implementing technology into schools, beginning almost ten years ago in 2002 with its statewide middle school 1:1 laptop program. Mike Muir, Multiple Pathways Leader in Auburn, told EdSurge that he credits the conference's success to its deliberate design and comprehensive view of the why, the how, and next steps regarding the potential of using iPads and apps in primary grades. "We learned at the conference how crucial it is to have adequate profession development time allotted to experiment with our iPads in a guided fashion and share our learning and frustrations," a participant told us. We give Auburn a hearty thumbs-up not only for its early adoption but for opening its classroom doors and sharing its insights and lessons learned with other curious minds. Seems appropriate, given that glorious state motto.