Technology in classroom important for schools

Earlier this week, a Sheridan County School District 1 teacher emphasized the impact having laptops in the hands of every student has had on test scores.

Fort Mackenzie English teacher Mick Wiest said the 1:1 laptop program, while not the only factor, helped students reach 91 percent proficiency in math last year and 100 percent proficiency in both reading and writing. In previous years, the students had been well below the state average in math and at 91 percent proficiency in reading and writing.

The school system bought 70 laptops with $42,500 of federal funding that was made available through President Barack Obama’s first-term stimulus package.

This is stimulus money that is working.

While schools across the country crumble, have weeds growing through floors or have module units stacked outside to accommodate growing student populations, Sheridan County schools have had the funding opportunity to purchase laptops for students at Fort Mackenzie and iPads for other students to use on a regular basis.

Teachers say the technology helps keep students engaged in the classroom.

In a world that is becoming increasingly digital, where many kids can use an iPad, iPod, computer and smartphone by the age of 3, it is wise to encourage technological growth in education.

Kids are still learning the subjects always taught in schools — science, math, reading and writing — but they are also learning about technology. They learn how quickly it advances, how it connects you to peers, how it makes the world seem like a much more accessible place and how it inspires ideas.

Some have fought the use of technology in classrooms, saying it allows students to become lazy, to cheat or to engage in inappropriate activities not at all related to what they are learning in the classroom. But the U.S. has slipped in recent years in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness rankings. In the 2012-2013 report, the U.S. ranks seventh overall, in 2011-2012 the country ranked fifth. The Netherlands and Germany both surpassed us in the report that compares a variety of factors. For example, the U.S. ranked 34th in health and primary education, eighth in higher education and training and 11th in technological readiness.

Preparing our children through technology and education, encouraging them to explore the world through Internet connectivity may give our nation a chance to improve in those rankings and further advance our interests.

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Tom Cotton

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