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Learning in the information age

Published: Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013 11:01 a.m. CST • Updated: Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013 11:52 a.m. CST
Caption
(CNA photo by SARAH BROWN)
St. Malachy eighth-grade student Alexis Baker utilizes a planner on Edmodo software to track her assignments.

It’s a new way of learning.

Sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students at St. Malachy School received 22 new Dell laptops this week thanks to a special gift and portion allocated from the school’s general fund.

As the classroom environment in private and public schools integrate technology into the learning experience, the Iowa Department of Education’s core standards in technology literacy are targeting students of all ages to become engaged, creative, resourceful and empowered real-world problem solvers.

“Pretty soon we won’t have technology classes,” said science teacher Linda Root. “Students will just learn by doing.”

Root and Principal John Walsh both emphasized the new laptops do not replace traditional methods of delivering and receiving information, but rather, they said, enhance the learning experience.

“We wanted to give our students access to information that normally wouldn’t be available in textbooks alone,” said Walsh. “They (the laptops) are a tool. We will still have textbooks, written assignments and material they have to read. Some will be on the computer, some paper and pencil, some hard text.”

Root said with her science and religion class, she utilizes many Google applications. She said she is able to create online quizzes, surveys, logs and calendars for her students, who have 24-hour access to the information.

“It’s great because they don’t have to be on any particular device to access the information,” said Walsh.

Curriculum

Iowa Core standards set by the Iowa Department of Education set specific standards for learning — and technology literacy is one area of focus.

“We use Iowa Core when addressing the curriculum and will let that guide us,” said Walsh.

According to the Iowa Department of Education website, Iowa Core technology-literacy standards for grades six through eight, are aimed at shaping students who think creatively and critically. The core standards suggest the way to achieve this is through interactive technology, where students conduct research, collaborate with experts and peers to gather, evaluate and use information.

Security

While many, if not most, households have a number of computer devices, schools choose to purchase their own computers for the added security features to help keep students safe and on task.

“We do have monitoring software and are getting teaching management software to see what students are doing,” said Walsh.

Walsh said the laptops offer filtered content when students browse the Internet and access learning software.

Additional measures taken by St. Malachy staff to endure safe computer use is training students on proper use with a technology handbook and permission slips that must be signed by parents.

Most of all, Walsh said it’s not about the computer, “it’s about the learning.”

With few industries operating without computers, Walsh said laptops in the schools are “a way to prepare students for the future.”

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