Technology becoming everyday occurrence in today's classrooms
Jonathan Higgins catches a car triggered by Shawn Smith Tuesday at Western Heights Middle School. The pair was measuring and graphing speed and distance covered via computer. (By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer / April 7, 2012)
As it is now, assessment test results arrive after the school year ends, Deputy Schools Superintendent Boyd Michael said.
Studies about whether technology helps children learn have had varying results, but there’s increasing evidence that it does, Wilcox said.
Hammann said the school system hasn’t conducted studies to determine if or how technology helps students learn.
However, Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Technology and Education is evaluating a laptop initiative at Hancock Middle-Senior High School in which the high school students and teachers each have laptops they can use in the classroom and at home, Principal Rodney Gayman said.
The initiative began in spring 2011, starting with the training of teachers in how to use the laptops for lessons and progressing to use of the laptops as part of the curriculum, Gayman said.
The Hopkins team observes classes using the laptops, charts the initiative’s progress and provides teachers with feedback, Gayman said. Teachers also consult with teachers in a similar program in Talbot County on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, he said.
Although Hopkins officials are evaluating how the laptops are helping students, Gayman said he’s not sure whether they will be able to tie any assessment test improvements specifically to the laptop initiative.
Technology alone is not the answer, Gayman said, but Hancock educators and students are using the laptops to help with critical thinking, collaboration, communication and creativity.
Those are skills employers are looking for in the 21st century, Gayman said.
Different way to teach
School system officials and teachers emphasized that technology is not being used for technology’s sake.
Wilcox, who has worked with several school systems and visited more through his previous job with Scholastic Inc., said technology is not always used to the best educational advantage.
It’s important for teachers to learn to teach with technology, Wilcox said.
“I think the struggle really is, it’s a fundamentally different way to teach than teachers have been taught to teach,” Wilcox said.
Some teachers are great with technology, some are OK and some just don’t get it, he said.
“Some people are more driven to learn the new technology than others,” Hammann said.
How well teachers work with technology has nothing to do with a teacher’s age, Hammann said. Some of the school system’s oldest teachers are experts with technology, he said.
Teachers get technology training during the summer and during the school year as specialists work with teachers in their classrooms, Hammann said.