Interview: Principal Charles Conner of Stephen Decatur Elementary School

This interview's focused on the Decatur school's upcoming iPad lab, which gives their entire K-8 student body access to Apple's tablet devices. I'm particularly interested in Connor's emphasis on academic competitiveness; I somewhat wonder if K-8 students aren't too young for this whole thing, though I tried to ask that in not-so-confrontational phrasing. Schools offering Elementary Education degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Dear Mr. Connor,

My name is Eric Garneau, and I'm a reporter at Learn.org, the world's largest education and career help desk.

We have a daily blog, the Education Innovation Guide, that promotes cutting edge developments in the educational world. We recently read about your school installing an iPad library this fall and were really impressed with the lengths to which Decatur Elementary embraces technology in order to give its students an educational advantage. As such, we'd love to interview you for one of our posts.

I've attached a short set of questions that can easily be answered by email in your free time. If you would prefer to conduct the interview by phone, please let me know and we can schedule a conference call.

It would be great if you could return the questions along with a photo of yourself by August 26, 2011. However, this is a flexible deadline - if you can't make it, please just let me know.

A little more about us: Learn.org is a free information source and career helpdesk. We reach over 30,000 daily visitors and have answered over 22,000 questions related to career and education. We're also advancing education innovation by funding technology projects, including over $25,000 in donations in 2010. These are some of our recent interviews:

• University of Washington psychology grad student Teri Kirby, on improving the free information source Wikipedia

Dr. Veronique Izard, on whether mathematics concepts are learned or innate

• Monterey Institute of International Studies graduate student Nelle Sacknoff, who travels the world to see how technological innovation is employed in various countries

We think our readers would really love to hear your insights!

Thank you for your time,

Eric Garneau

Learn.org

1. Can you tell us a little bit about your personal and professional background before coming to Stephen Decatur Elementary?

2. What gave you the initial idea to invest in an iPad lab? Is there precedent for such a thing in elementary schools?

3. Has anyone raised the objection that perhaps elementary school students are too young to really get the most out of this technology? If so, how do you respond?

4. Of all the innovations that come with this iPad lab, which are you most proud of?

5. What kind of classroom projects involving the iPad have you envisioned for your students?

6. How did your partnership come about with the Academic Tech Park, who is providing the school with the technology? What kind of personnel and curriculum support comes with that?

7. Competitiveness seems to be a major factor in implementing this new technology. How important do you feel it is that today's students, even young ones, gain a competitive educational edge, and how do you think technology helps them accomplish that?

8. Is there anything further you'd like to tell our readers about your school's particular innovations, or about the role of technological innovations in the general educational world?

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