ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- It's fair to say most elementary schools still use textbooks, but one St. Johns County school is a few years ahead of its time.
Kelsey Priest is a fourth-grader at Palencia Elementary School in St. Augustine, and she boasts that her school is unique. "I like how they use iPads instead of paper," she says.
Palencia opened about a month and a half ago, and is the first of its kind in St. Johns County. School principal Don Campbell says, "The state is mandated by 2014-2015 that we start moving toward digital instruction and digital textbooks. So being a brand-new school and a green school, we decided to go ahead and jump in with both feet and do digital learning."
The 531 students at Palencia Elementary use iPads to learn their curriculum. They have everything from textbooks to worksheets and educational games to assist with their learning. "The students, they are thrilled. They are so engaged in the learning. They just can't wait to get their iPads every day," says Campbell.
The system has been smooth sailing for the most part, with a few glitches here and there. But PrinciCampbell says they expect glitches in a technological world. "We're trying to find out what kind of bugs are involved when you move to digital learning. And help the schools in the future that move in this direction avoid some of those pitfalls," he says.
Kelsey's dad, Tom Priest, thinks this is the wave of the future. "The fact that she gets to share an iPad with a fellow student, with the schools intent of going paperless, is a pretty extraordinary leap considering she's in fourth grade," he says.
At this time, students aren't allowed to take the iPads home with them. Instead, they do their homework with an old fashion pencil and paper. The St. Johns County school district plans to have most of their schools use digital textbooks by 2015.