The Woodward News

Local News

September 22, 2013

Bond Series: Keeping up with technology

Woodward, Okla. — Edmond students do it.

Putnam City students do it.

Clinton Catoosa, and Kansas City students do it.

If the Woodward School District's October 8 bond issue passes, Woodward students will do it too.

In today's fast paced business, collegiate and even medical world, computers are everywhere.

To that end, Woodward School District Long Range Planning Committee believes getting a tablet or iPad in the hand of every Woodward student for web based learning is an initiative worth funding.

"I have been working here for Woodward Schools for 18 years," said Deputy Superintendent Kyle Reynolds. "I have used a computer every single day for my job."

The technology arm of the Woodward School bond issue represents roughly 10 percent of the money, Reynolds said. It seeks to create a learning environment whereby teachers integrate the use of the devices into daily lessons, as well as using the devices to download books, rather than hard cover books, Reynolds said.

The devices would be used in group teaching sessions and at home for homework, he said.

For instance, a teacher might assign a subject matter to her students and have them research the subject and write a report all in the same hour, he said.

Or perhaps a student was sick and needed to access their work from home, this could be easily done, he said.

Now, school officials are not talking about sending a 3rd grader home with a $400 iPad,

"That initiative would probably start in the middle school years,” Reynolds said. “But there would be tablets and iPads available in the elementary schools for classroom use."

For instance, at Edmond schools, there is a "technology cart" that contains 12 or 15 devices and whichever teacher needs to, can roll the cart to her classroom and issue the devices to the children for a lesson, said Richard Anderson, head of technologies at Edmond Public School District.

For those who remember bold ruled paper and a number 2 pencil, this can be a concept that takes some digesting, Anderson admits.

But talk to other forward thinking school districts and a few people who have graduated and then grappled with learning technology while also trying to learn a new job and the idea can become more palatable, Anderson said.

"I think it is a great idea and a great way to learn but the key is the teachers need to be comfortable with the technology and be able to combine it with their curriculum," Anderson said. "You know, that was ultimately our point that anywhere, outside of school, this is how people communicate and work and yet we are still having them come in and pick up their pencil and paper."

Reynolds admits, there are some concerns with ramped up technology that must be responsibly addressed.

For instance, what happens if the device is taken home and destroyed or stolen? What about a student, who accesses the net at home without a teacher present? And how about the sustainability of the program, given the short technology life of tablets and iPads?

"The devices are insured. If students go on line at home, they still must access the net through our server and so they are protected with our filters and firewalls," Reynolds said. "And Apple is the only company who is making this sustainable for schools with their buy back program."

According to Reynolds, the Apple Buy Back Program allows iPads to be sold back to the company or traded in for an upgraded new version.

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