Nation’s first iSchool opens

iSchool for my school? One Las Vegas charter school is answering this question with a resounding “yes.”

Explore Knowledge Academy  celebrated its grand opening as the nation’s first iSchool yesterday. Explore Knowledge Academy is working with education technology advocates iSchool Campus to test the waters of a technology-oriented classroom.  By arming each student with their own iPad, the pair hopes to bring the information age to the grade school age.

Explore Knowledge Academy pre-loads each iPad with educational apps that cater to students’ grade levels. Unlike traditional worksheets, these apps are interactive and aim to engage students with the content. iSchool Campus prides itself on their ability to keep students interested and active in the learning experience, which is one of the more difficult aspects teachers have to deal with on a day-to-day basis.

Of course, putting the internet in a K-12 student’s hands comes with some concerns, but Explore Knowledge Academy has taken care of it. Traditional filters and firewalls prevent the students from accessing any inappropriate content the same way that computer lab computers already do, and teachers can browse the student’s history to make sure that they are staying on task. Mix in an old fashioned walk around the classroom to monitor iPad use, and you have a pretty impressive level of control on what the students do with their new tablets.

Explore Knowledge Academy  uses very few traditional textbooks — most reading material is served up on the iPad.  Visiting a few websites, e-textbooks, and online tools creates a more balanced viewpoint than just one editor’s version of a textbook. But that doesn’t mean that all traditional methods are thrown out the window; for example, pen and paper math is still taught, creating a “blended” environment.  By putting the proven, classic methods next to the new interactive curriculum, Explore Knowledge Academy hopes to create a fun and exciting way for students to learn.