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Kindergarteners in Maine to receive iPad 2s

Kindergarteners in Maine to receive iPad 2s
A kindergarten student in Maine uses an iPad with her literacy instructor. Jose Leiva/Sun Journal

Kindergarten school supply list: paste, chunky crayons, iPad?

Auburn school district in Maine has approved the purchase of 285 iPad 2s for each of its kindergarten students this fall. The $200,000 investment, which includes software and teacher training, could prove controversial. But this could prove to be a big PR win for Apple if the school district has success with reading and writing programs for its youngest students.

Maine is not a new customer of Apple’s, having paved the way 10 years ago with the Maine Learning Technology Initiative. Apple pretty much locked up the secondary education market for computer hardware in that state when they started a program to issue iBooks to every 7th and 8th grader then later expanded that to all high school students and finally sealed it up a few years a ago with a $25 million a year contract to provide students with MacBooks, software and professional development.

A friend of mine who is a math teacher in northern Indiana was just informed that his school district has added iPad 2 to its list of approved technology purchases so he’s pushing for a set for his classroom. That sure is a far cry from the TI-85 graphing calcualator I used in high school algebra. I can personally attest to the value of using technology for reading education at a young age. My son, then 4, had a Leapster with stylus input and was reading and writing his name after a few weeks of use. Our 10 month-old daughter was even helping me test out a storybook app for iPad this weekend. [review forthcoming]

Maine is serious about technology and they have had success in the past with these initiatives. I think they are on to something by starting out in kindergarten. What do you think? Are 5 year-olds ready for iPads or are they just a toy?

[via Bangor Daily News]