Many Wausau Students Get iPads This Year


The Wausau School District is supplying all of its eighth graders and an entire elementary school student body with iPads. It may be the first step toward the elimination of paper textbooks in the district.

The Wausau School District is giving iPads to all 625 of its eighth graders, and in a first of its kind move in Wisconsin, to all 350 students, kindergarten through fifth grade, at its Franklin Elementary School.

Director of Secondary Education Thom Hahn says the program will allow teachers the flexibility to create their own lesson plans. “They’re saying, ‘We know what’s best for the students in the Wausau School District,’ and as a result, they’re creating the materials, the lessons that will help them do that.”

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Hahn says even the youngest elementary school students are already showing increased concentration and improved learning behaviors. “If you take a look and watch what they do, it’s amazing. It’s almost like second nature to them. They’re very adept at using the iPad, and it’s become part of a culture that they’ve grown up in.”

The Wausau School District hopes to eventually give every one of its students an iPad, in part to make sure that they all have the same advantages regardless of family income.Hahn says the iPads will not eliminate paper textbooks yet, but that may come. “At this time, we’re working that direction. It is not instead of textbooks at this time. We have heard that over the next five to seven years that many of the paper texts will be phased out, and that the textbook companies are going more to a digital, on-line option.”

The iPads are costing the district $900,000. Hahn says the only negative feedback they have gotten is concern over a student losing or breaking a $500 piece of digital equipment.