Tablet Computers To Be Used In Designated Classroom
April M. Fronick • Editor
With the ultimate goal of best-preparing students for the future, the Bowling Green R-I School District is moving forward with a new technology initiative that is designed to eventually put tablet computers in the hands of every teacher and student.
“We’re still in the early beginning stages of this,” noted Superintendent Darin Powell. “Naturally we want to improve education and make decisions that will ultimately have students leaving here best prepared for their future.”
He explained this is something that many schools are taking steps toward and there is a great deal of research that supports an expanded use of computers and computer-based curriculum.
Some of the advantages to this progressive approach to learning will be the constant ability to easily upgrade the curriculum. In the past new texts have to be ordered and the process can be cumbersome and expensive. Putting Android tablets in the hands of students will not be inexpensive, but staff who support the 1-1 technology initiative are confident the funds can be generated through savings and other areas.
Powell pointed out that the staff and school board are taking a one-step-at-a-time approach and will move forward this year by putting the computers in the hands of some teachers and a select group of tech-savvy students to begin the brainstorming and trouble-shooting process. (See this week’s edition of “Education Corner” on page 16 for more on the program.)
By next year, the tablets will be incorporated into a pilot program. The technology will be used in four pilot classrooms and the students will be allowed to use the computers in all of their classes.
Before the next school year, though, the teachers and students who are testing the equipment this year will make a presentation to the Board of Education in May.
“A lot of consideration has gone into this plan. We want students to be engaged and in a time where most students use computers and ipods for social networking and entertainment, the transition to bringing the classroom into that format should result in greater student motivation,” Powell said. “We want students to be engaged and actively involved in their education.”
Bowling Green High School Principal Brad Kurz said he has given the Vizio tablets with the Android operating system to several teachers and students.
“Last year the teachers identified a group of students they felt were really tech-savvy,” Kurz said. “They were identified as our ‘tech team’ and they will help troubleshoot and brainstorm how computers can be used in instruction. We wanted to put them in the hands of kids and see what they come up with, too.”
Bowling Green junior Jordan Watts noted that he’s enthusiastic about helping to get the program off the ground and has already found the tablet to be beneficial.
“I think it’s very exciting. With these tablets I feel a lot more comfortable. It’s easier to carry than five or six books. I can navigate this with such ease,” Watts remarked. “I can use it for research and quickly find everything I need. It’s incredible.”
He added the ability to greater multi-task is one of the best benefits.
Kurz noted that many colleges are using online course work and this program will only help students prepare and reduce the culture shock in the transition.
“Students learn best when they’re comfortable,” Kurz explained. “And if students are used to using technology they’re going to be most comfortable and that’s the medium through which most information is being presented. Anything we can do to get on the students’ level is going to be beneficial to them and accelerate the learning process.”
Watts noted that in just a day of having the tablet in hand, he was able to assist a classmate in a senior composition class. Watts said he was able to pull up the necessary information in just seconds.
“There will be a lot to look at and a lot to consider,” Powell said.
He added that most of the staff is on board and those who hesitate know there is an intrinsic benefit and are willing to look at education in a new way.