More details with schools’ tech, please [UPDATED]Published 9:18am Friday, September 13, 2013 Updated 11:23am Friday, September 13, 2013
The start of a new school year offers an annual reminder of how technology is redefining the delivery of education.
Witness the Sept. 2 Times news report “Schools swap books for tablets,” which detailed two of the latest local efforts.
This fall, the Sartell-St. Stephen school district purchased 1,110 MacBook Airs for grades 9-12 and 900 iPad Minis for grades 6-8. Also, St. John’s Prep now provides all students in grades 6-12 an iPad for use in their classes.
Digital technology certainly is a good thing when it comes to motivating today’s students. But it also raises many challenges, the biggest of which involve effectiveness and equality.
State, district and even classroom leaders would serve students, their families and all taxpayers well by creating and sharing policies that thoroughly address these areas with regard to technology.
As this board noted a few years ago when the rush to tablets — specifically iPads — started, educators need to provide understandable data to the public that shows digital technology is improving student performance.
Schools (read taxpayers) are spending thousands of dollars and more acquiring an array of high-tech machines. Similar — perhaps even more — is spent on software, training and application. And many schools are requiring students to pay technology fees.
So what are schools saying this investment will yield? National studies point to more engaged learners and some improved academic outcomes. But what are local schools experiencing?
Policies outlining goals supplemented with results will go a long way toward understanding why educators want taxpayers to pay for a major, ongoing expense.
There is no denying that digital technology has heightened awareness of socioeconomic gaps among areas of the state, school districts, schools within a district and even students themselves.
That’s why it’s critical for policies to address expectations regarding technology, especially if studies show these new tools make for better-educated students. Policies must be thorough, covering everything from the state’s role in making sure all districts can afford technology to whether a specific school requires students to have the ability to access the Internet outside of class.
Again, this increased technology is good because it motivates students for school. The key, though, is making sure those kids are getting smarter and that they all have equal access to it.
— St. Cloud Times