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Just the highlights:

* Better than a backpackBy: Jeanne Millsap – Herald Correspondent
* An anonymous donor recently gave the Coal City school district an iPad for use in its special education classes.
* “The iPad has been called the backpack of the future,” Smith said. “It allows them access to textbooks, a calendar, documents they’re working on, teachers’ sites. . . It can give them access to all the things they need to be successful.”
* Schools use iPad apps for astronomy guides, geography games like Stack the States, constructing virtual molecules, 3-D cell simulations, math flashcards, alphabet phonics, graphing calculators, spelling games, viewing art, and more.
* “Research showing gains these kinds of devices can give to special needs students is really taking off,” Smith said. “The students have been very excited, and it’s been very well-received. It is already directly in the hands of the students.”
* “We put a lot of safeguards in place to make sure our students are safe on the internet,” he added. “The apps will be those approved for education. We can use them for math programs, research, reading textbooks online, and many other uses. It has a huge potential.”
* the reality
* is that most of the district’s students are already connected in some way, whether it’s through a cell phone, a home computer, iPods and iPads, or even video game systems.”You can hand them almost anything, and they will master it. . . We need to provide them with the venue to get stuff that is meaningful educationally,” he said. “We also need to make sure we are competing in a way students will see as valuable. . . Technology is a learning tool that is very effective in their style of learning.”