South Central students prepare for 1:1 learning.

From STAFF REPORTS

South Central Elementary School is the first school in Washington Co. to go to one-on-one with regard to technology.

Utilizing funding over the last three years from the Washington County Commission, the Washington County School Board, Washington County Title1, Washington County Special Education and South Central School to raise funds totaling $16,000; every student now can use a Chromebook every day for school.

This is so important because today’s students are digital natives. When anyone over the age of 30 learned how to use computers back in the 80s, it was the equivalent of learning a new language.

Today’s students are radically different from those of the past. They were born into a time where information is at their fingertips with instant connectivity and networking. Most students start using technology at a very early age, and they explore the world in a very different way. These digital natives have a very different expectation of what school should look like for them. Students want more feedback. They interact and network differently. They want choices and a say in what they are learning. They want a more integrated approach to learning.

Understanding that today, students do not all learn at the same pace and in the same way. The classroom must adapt to meet the needs of each individual student. Technology allows teachers to differentiate content and assignments using a variety of teaching methods and tools. This allows teachers to address all learning styles using technology.  In differentiating content, students are more engaged, motivated, and have an ownership of learning.

In a 1:1 environment, the learning shifts from the more traditional teacher-led lecture to a more student-centered focus. Students are able to access online learning tools that engage them in the learning process.  When students complete their assignments, written work and presentations through web-based systems such as Google Drive, IXL or Canvas, teachers are able to view student work and progress. This facilitates ongoing feedback to students from teachers and increases formative assessment opportunities; both of these are considered research best-practices in assessment and will lead to higher achievement. This also leads to a more differentiated classroom.  For example, instructional videos can be paused and viewed multiple times by students for whom the traditional lecture moves too quickly. Also, resources like Khan Academy and online textbook videos from Go Math, McGraw-Hill Science and Social Studies are available during and after school hours.

In addition to videos, electronic and online resources like “EPIC Books for Kids” allow students to access 25,000 high-quality books for reading from any device, even at home, giving kids access to high-quality literature providing more equity in their learning opportunities.

In a 1:1 environment, students are able to interact and network differently creating opportunities for group and project-based learning. In Project-based learning, students solve ‘real-world problems’ that require students to work in groups, gather and synthesize information, think critically, and apply what they have learned. The technology allows the teacher a variety of ways to deliver content. It also offers a wider range of opportunities for students to show what they know and understand about a topic. This allows the teacher to become a facilitator/coach, guiding student instruction and questioning versus the traditional method of viewing the teacher as the source of knowledge.

A concern often voiced is screen time in schools, when classrooms become overly-focused on technology and connecting students to devices. However, making devices integrated in the classroom as a learning tool may actually have the benefit of minimizing technology as the focus of learning; instead, students learn with technology.

According to a recent study by the University of Michigan led by Binbin Zheng, assistant professor of educational technology, almost 100 academic studies focusing on laptop programs from 2001 to present day were reviewed, with a meta-analysis performed on 10 of the studies. Findings revealed that students who were given laptops and provided with the right support were able to raise their level of academic achievement. Researchers found the highest improvements in the subjects of English, Writing, Science, and Math.  It also found that students who engaged in learning through laptops were more enthusiastic and engaged with their studies, built better student-teacher relationships, and were gaining tech and problem-solving skills.

Utilizing 1:1 technology, South Central Elemetary School is providing an opportunity for our students to be better prepared to enter high school, college, and a chosen career path, which will offer the opportunities for equity in a global job market of the future.