The Annapolis Valley Regional School Board is buying tablet computers for students to extend a province-wide math program that ends in June.

The Nova Scotia pilot project got iPads and other tablets for Grade 7 students at four schools. About 300 students participated at:

  • Oxford School in Halifax.
  • Chester Area Middle School in Chester.
  • Whitney Pier Memorial Junior High in Sydney.
  • Central Kings Rural High School in Cambridge.

Students put their math textbook on the devices, along with special apps that let them do things like graph linear equations.

Ryan Hainstock, the education technology manager for the Annapolis Valley School Board, said the board may eventually let students bring their own computers to classrooms.

"The devices are locked down to some extent, but we also wanted to give the kids freedom enough that they could chose a tool that made sense for them when they’re trying to reach the learning outcome," he said. 

Business leaders John Risley and Jim Spatz each gave $250,000 to help fund the program.

"We didn't want to restrict them to the point where they only had one or two tools they could use."

He said balancing that freedom with keeping kids on track could be difficult.

Student Sophie Visser said it helps on sick days. "There are a lot of things that can help you on here. If you go home, you can talk to the teacher," she said.

Teacher Vince Leblanc said the iPad changed the way he delivered the course and improved communication.

"It's given a voice to students who don’t have a voice in class. I think education is changing and we need to change with it," he said.

The Annapolis Valley Regional School Board will buy tablets for next year's Grade 7 class so this year's class can use them in Grade 8.

The Department of Education is deciding if the program will continue at other schools in the fall. Other school boards have introduced tablets to the classroom in different programs.