Technology In The Classroom

Remember the pee-chee folder

The Pee-Chee Folder

Remember the pee-chee folder- that innovative educational tool. It was a standard requirement at the beginning of each school year. Also, recall that you had to put them away during your math test because the “times table” was printed on the inside.

HP 12C

The HP 12C Calculator

How about your first programable calculator. I remember running to Economics class to take an exam. Every step of the way I was trying to remember all my formulas. Yet, the guy sitting next to me had the new HP- 12c. He only had to focus on the concepts and the information application not rote memorization. He knew then what I know now – a loan officer, employer or investor will never give me consideration because I memorized a formula.

Electronics In the Class Room

Fast forward 25 years and my children are now in school. My son has a iPhone and I want to hold him accountable for his school schedule, organizing his notes and excelling at geometry. But his school has a “no electronics in the classroom” policy. What Is he to do? Walmart doesn’t sell Pee-Chee folders anymore. Just like the pee-chee folder to the HP 12C, what is considered innovative is changing. There are a number of innovative apps and programs to help children excel in the classroom. We have to figure out how to get them incorporated into all the school districts and not just the privileged few.

Schools like Somerset Academy Eagle Campus (SAEC) in Jacksonville, Fla. have cracked the code on incorporating technology into the classroom. SAEC is a new Duval County charter school and with the help of government grants the school was able to install smartboards in every classroom, each Middle School child has access to a net-book and selective grades have access to online curriculum.

Look at the Numbers

Nationally, statistics show that technology is a game changer for education. In a vendor sponsored survey results showed that 83% of teachers had an increase in student participation when technology was introduced into the classroom.

However, SAEC isn’t your typical school. Although 97% of schools in the U.S have multimedia centers the student to computer ratio is 5.4:1. The ratio is even higher in poor and predominantly minority school districts – that’s the digital divide. This equates to less then 4 computers in a class of 20 students. Also, less than 50% of teachers surveyed said “they used technology during instruction” more than occasionally.

In contrast, college student’s laptop ownership recently reached over 75%. Some colleges are even including net-books as part of the required materials. So, the first time a large percentage of children will use technology regularly is if/when they make it to college. We have to find a way for children to be acclimated earlier to using technology as part of their everyday educational routine.

There are a number of arguments on why children shouldn’t bring electronics into the classroom: they are a distraction, they will use them to cheat and everyone doesn’t have access. All these are valid arguments, but we have to over come these obstacles to make our children comparative ( in some cases just to keep them at par.) We can look to successful elementary and secondary schools like SAEC, KIPP and Tiger Academy as examples on how to push the limits of education and technology integration.

P.S. I found where I could buy a Pee-Chee folder but, I needed a computer to order it.

– Manch Kersee
Executive Director
Digital Duval, Inc.

Article Sources:
National Center for Educational Statistics –
Public-Use Data Files and Documentation (FRSS 95): Teachers’ Use of Educational Technology in U.S. Public Schools, 2009
Web Release: May 6, 2010

Internet Access in Public Schools

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