Technology is becoming more popular in class.
Technology is pulling students out of the classroom and giving them access to education anytime, anywhere.
Alberta schools are seeing an increase in student-owned laptops, smartphones and iPads, along with a demand from students who want to use them in the classroom.
“There is an increased desire, from the students and the teachers, for students to bring those devices into the classroom and use them for educational purposes,” said Shawn Russell, Assistant Superintendent for Chinook’s Edge School Division, the largest rural school division in Alberta.
“We’re especially seeing this at the high school level.”
Last year, Chinook’s Edge received a $300,000 grant from Alberta Education to work on a project focused on Innovative Technology Management.
Since then, the division has been working on a virtualized desktop environment, which will allow students and teachers to access schoolwork from the school server, anywhere in the world and from any computer.
“We have a number of technology projects happening [in the division,] but we’re seeing a need for staff and students to have this anytime, anywhere access,” said Russell.
“We’re breaking down barriers between home and school.”
He added this new technology helps students use their own computers, without the fear of not having the right programs.
“This will allow lower end machines to run as higher end machines because the programs and files are running off of the school server.”
“This allows students to stay more engaged in the education process, using the tools they use in their daily lives.”
Many schools offer a one-on-one laptop programs, where students are given a laptop for the year. Notes, homework and assignments are kept on this laptop and students can access the school’s network from home. Other schools offer a website for students to retrieve homework, participate in group discussions, or get help with an assignment.
More schools are also using SMART Boards. These interactive boards allow teachers to pull up assignments, photos or information from the web, then draw or write on them. Some SMART Boards are even equipped with a remote so students can submit an answer to a multiple-choice question at the touch of a button. The division received a grant from Alberta Education to outfit each class with a computer and a SMART Board.
“We’re seeing teachers use SMART Boards in their daily activities,” said Russell.
Looking ahead, Russell said it’s hard to predict where technology in education will go.
“Technology changes so much, even six months from now.”
“Technology will continue to advance and we need to be open in the way we design and adapt as new technology becomes available.”
All in all, Russell said the advancements in technology allow for anytime, anywhere access for students and it allows teachers to develop lessons and resources that can be accessed in the same manner.
“Homework has taken on a different look.”