Orange Co. wants to replace notepads with iPads in schools

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ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. —

Orange County school leaders are talking about how to move into the new digital world of education.

Some classrooms already use iPads and Mac computers instead of textbooks. Now officials are trying to figure out how to meet a new state mandate and make sure every student has access.

WFTV's Lori Brown got an inside look on Thursday to see how it's already working.

Textbooks will be replaced with net-books, notepads with iPads, and white boards with smart boards.

"With an iPad you just go on the website, type in the page, boom, its right there," said Jack Colois, a fifth-grader at Audubon Park Elementary School.

"It's not bulky where you are carrying around paper and pencils and a camera. It' one thing and its very light," said fifth-grader Connor Wincig.

Audubon Park Elementary School is on the cutting edge, thanks to its private fundraising efforts.

But it is the direction all Florida schools will soon be required to take.

A new state mandate requires schools to spend half of their curriculum budget on digital materials starting in 2015.

"The students coming to the building now are what we call digital natives," said Audubon Principal Trevor Honohan, "It's never going to replace a good teacher, but it is the one thing that keeps them engaged."

The days of kids bringing home piles of homework to show their parents are over. Instead, parents can scan their kids to see their latest work.

"Instead of it being teacher-directed as in the past, the kids are taking charge, and they have a voice," said Alison Hannon, a teacher at Audubon.

"Our idea was 'think outside the box,'" said Colois.

Now that is what the Orange County Public School leaders will have to do to figure out how duplicate what is happening throughout the district.

Orange County School Board members are working to figure out how to transition from textbooks to the digital age. They will discuss whether to get kids tablets or net-books, or have them bring their own technology.

A big issue will be how to provide internet access at home for kids who don't have it.