Eye of the Tiger: Learning to learn and teach tech

 


Editor’s note: This is one of several columns researched and written by Encampment School seniors.

Technology is becoming a huge part of the Carbon County School District No. 2 education system; but it is only useful if we know how to use it to its full potential.

iPads are an investment Carbon County School District No. 2 has made over the past few years. But when purchasing them, I do not believe the administration took into account how much this form of technology is actually going to cost. When an iPad is purchased, much like any other form of technology, it’s not only the cost of the iPad itself, it is also the apps, the Otter box and the bandwidth.

The cost, though, is not the main issue the CCSD 2 is facing with the iPads. The biggest issue we are facing after purchasing iPads is that teachers and students do not know how to use them to their full potential.

As stated by Tom Daccord from Edudemic, an educational resource, iPads are a great learning tool but there are many common mistakes schools make after purchasing them. One of the main mistakes, he claims, is not having teachers prepared in classroom management of iPads. He further states that without training, the iPads just become an “electronic notebook”. He also states in his article that teachers agree with the fact that iPads are needed in schools ,and are a great learning tool, but they are worthless without training.


Rick Martin is the computer specialist for the Encampment K-12 School. He is in charge of managing the iPads. This includes anything from buying and running apps to helping people use them. When I interviewed Mr. Martin he told me the main problem people have come to him for help is the difficulty in how to use the iPad. He then said that people also come to him complaining about the internet and how slow it is. The only thing he can tell them is it’s not the iPads fault and not to blame the technology itself; the bandwidth we have at the school is not enough to support the entire district. As Mr. Martin put it, “The iPads are a good educational tool but are not the answer to everything. With more training people will be more apt to use these educational tools.”

In order to use these great learning tools we must first know how to use them to their full potential. Kids are getting frustrated with the devices and cannot seem to figure out all of the wonderful things that iPads have to offer. Also, with more training our schools would be much more capable of going paperless. We would no longer have to worry about printing off documents if they were available to use straight from our iPads. There are also many electronical textbooks that are available in all different fields of learning. These textbooks are convenient because they are less expensive, and they include many tools students can use with them. These tools consist of highlighters, flashcards, videos, picture captions that come to life and many other features.

The training that is needed for teachers is not all the same as the training the students need. Teachers’ training should consist of much more than the students. Most schools in CCSD 2 have PCs running Windows 7 or XP. There is a huge learning curve to go from a PC to a Mac, and to understand the differences between a computer or laptop versus a tablet. The functions are different, set up is different and capabilities are different.

Teachers are only getting minimal training to the iPads. This training is only consisting of how to download apps, how to close down the apps that are running in the background, how to check their email and how to unlock the iPad, further proving how much training is not being given. Faculty should learn to manage students with their iPads, where to look for good quality apps and how to actually get students engaged in using the iPad as an educational tool in their classroom. With more training I believe teachers will be more apt to use iPads in their classrooms.

Students also need training. This training should cover, how to manage apps, how to unlock their iPad, and most importantly how to use apps. The big push in the CCSD 2 is MyBig Campus; a few problems with this is that students do not know how to use it, which makes them hesitant. Also, since the bandwidth is not enough to support the whole district, the internet is slow and is hardly capable of running. Students have been facing the problem of not knowing how to save a project on their iPads while still having the ability to open it from a computer. The only options are to use Drop Box or to email it to yourself. The problem with that is that students do not know how to use Drop Box, making it nearly impossible to remove work from the iPad. Often times trying to do this ends in more of a struggle, and takes longer then it would just to walk to the library and type a paper on a computer. If students had more training it would open up entirely new and exciting possibilities for using the iPads as an educational tool.

The iPads were a great investment made by CCSD 2 but students and teachers alike are not educated enough on how to use them. With more training, we will be able to take technology in with open arms and move into the future.

 

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