In the future, as students leave school on the final day of their academic year the chant of “no more pencils, no more books…” may be replaced with “no more computers, no more SMART boards,” as education continues to move forward in use of technology in the classroom.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 97 percent of educators are reporting they have at least one computer in their classroom, and well over 50 percent report having another form of technology (digital cameras, LCD displays, interactive white boards (SMART boards) at their fingertips in the classroom.
As technology continues to change, the challenge those in education face is being able to keep on the cutting edge, and area school districts are doing their best to provide the most recent technology education they can for students.
“As times change, we are trying to keep up and integrate more of what is available,” said Cheri Nelson, technology coordinator for the Redwood Area School District (RASD).
According to Rick Ellingworth, RASD superintendent, one of the questions new teachers just coming out of college ask has to do with use of technology in the classroom, as they are earning degrees with a technology focus.
Darren Tighe, one of the RASD’s technology integration specialists, said the district continues to look at options, and for the coming year even more information is going to be incorporated online for staff, students and the community.
Through Google, the school district has created all new e-mail addresses for staff, and Tighe said for the coming year each student is going to be assigned a Google account as well.
“The Google apps ac-count is going to allow for more communication to be done online,” Tighe said.
Dave Gartner, principal at St. John Lutheran School in Redwood Falls, said one of the changes schools are making is the use of textbooks online, and even though there is a cost to take part in that program one is guaranteed from year to year to have the most recent edition available for kids.
“Technology is here to stay,” said Gartner. “It is getting bigger and better.
“Everywhere our students go they are surrounded by technology. So, it makes sense for us to help prepare them for it.”
Technology is not just being utilized for the sake of keeping up; the minds of students are learning that way.
Gartner said the important thing for schools is to learn to find the balance, because kids also need to learn through other styles, such as hands-on experience and even getting outside to play.
Students at RASD have seen increased use of technology in the classroom, as carts of laptops, iPads and even their own cell phones are being used right at their desk, rather than students having to go to a specific computer lab in school.
Page 2 of 2 - Technology is so prevalent, RASD leadership has created an entire handbook just to address the policies and procedures regarding what is and is not acceptable for those utilizing it.
Nelson said the district currently has more than 500 computers available in the school, with an added 140 iPads, which are primarily being used in math.
Every teacher at RASD has their own Web site they are required to maintain through the school’s main site, and information through the Skyward program allows parents to keep up to date on their child(ren)’s information from missed assignments to lunch accounts.
“We are helping prepare kids for college and for the world,” said Tighe, adding what the district has in store for next year is a great step in getting them ready.