Reading, writing and arithmetic have been supersized by the age of technology. High school typing classes exist only in the memories of baby boomers and in the basements of antique stores. Personal computers seeped into school buildings like fog rolling over a country lake. The next wave of technology began at home, microwaves and electronics enhanced appliances made the introduction of video games to our children, effortless. Children use electronics to learn their ABC’s and to develop 3D communities. Electronics are the teaching and learning tools of today.
Currently, districts across the country are reviewing procedures to facilitate students’ use of electronics at school. Parents are faced with the challenge of providing their child with a smart telephone, computer or tablet of their own. Additionally, the each electronic device needs the support of a paid monthly service to connect the device to the internet. Parents and school districts must work together to pay for a child’s connection to the world wide web.
According to the Rockdale County Public Schools Strategic Plan, select students will participate in one to one technology (being issued laptop or tablets from the district) as well as digital resources in every classroom. Students also have access to Bring Your Own Technology (B.Y.O.T) policies at certain schools and parents who need to can access the internet by visiting schools’ Title I Parent Centers. Rockdale has connected technology to the classroom with fortified strength. Parents need only visit their child’s school to see computers and technology in use in all phases of teaching and learning. Online courses and blended learning (a combination of computer based learning and in person instruction) are in full use in our county.
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The New York Times highlighted B.Y.O.T. in the Atlanta Area in an article that reported innovative policies in Atlanta as “another district that has adopted B.Y.O.T. is Forsyth County in Cumming, Ga., near Atlanta. Because its B.Y.O.T. program started in 2008, more than 300 people have visited in the last year from other districts around the country to learn from the district’s experience.”…”In Forsyth, the most common devices are iPhones, iPod Touches, Android phones and tablets. They are effective for students answering multiple-choice questions on math Web sites or taking a quiz, said Anne Kohler, a special-education teacher at South Forsyth High School. She says that policy makers and others who oppose the idea of using devices in classrooms are behind the curve.” http://www.nytimes.com/2013/
03/23/technology/in-some- schools-students-bring-their- own-technology.htmlOther states are also providing students with technology in the palms of their hands; as reported in the May 6th edition of “Education Week” Sarasota County Schools, located in Sarasota, Fla., has partnered with Microsoft to provide Microsoft Office 365 to their students and employees districtwide. Through their existing partnership, all staff and students have access to the latest version of Microsoft Office for use at home, as well as cloud storage for their most important files via OneDrive for Business. http://www.edweek.org/ew/ marketplace/webinars/webinars. html#archived
The United States Department of Education supports technology and its access to children at school by encouraging electronics use in all disciplines including assessment of what children have learned and age groups. Based on the information contained in the newly released Ed Tech Developer’s Guide: A Primer for Developers, Startups and Entrepreneurs the government is encouraging the expansion of development of gaming to facilitate student learning and level the playing field for students with limited access to technology at home. http://tech.ed.gov/
Parents and guardians are often able to provide computers for their children. however, in economically disadvantaged households many students are left with hardware and software but may be missing the vital connection to the internet. “Comcast Essentials” is a program available to families who receive free or reduced lunch who meet certain income criteria at a discounted rate for the internet and a low cost computer after they meet basic eligibility requirements that are listed on their website at https://apply.
The popularity of Khan Academy (an on-line collection of no-cost recorded tutorials) has given students and parents a map to follow to ensure students have support once they have full access to the internet. Students can access help an virtual tutoring 24 hours a day. Additionally, students can access on-line library resources, homework hotlines, and research assistance. http//:www.khanacademy.com
The cons to electronics in school have been argued based on the merits of conditions such as: attention difficulty, eye strain and carpal tunnel. CNN featured and article that highlighted the loss of handwriting skills due to technology in schools. According to an article in “The Washington Post” which reported in April that 45 states have adopted common core standards for education. Such standards are designed to provoke thought while at the same time preparing students to pass standardized tests, but they do not include a cursive learning requirement.
CNN asked the question out loud “Has technology ruined handwriting?” http://www.cnn.com/2013/07/26/
tech/web/impact-technology- handwriting/. Evidence heavily supports that access to quality education and thus electronics is a vessel on which students can journey into higher paying jobs, satisfying careers and lifelong security. Internet access is a lifeline to the thoughts and inventions of people who are working to innovate and improve our world. Students displaying mastery of access to technology from as early as pre-school will massage the muscles needed to help strengthen their academic performance.