Technology invades our schools

Mona Mattei
By Mona Mattei
November 19th, 2010

Projectors, SMART boards, document cameras and tablet PC’s are revolutionizing the classrooms of the Boundary region. Shawn Lockhart, principal of Grand Forks Senior Secondary said the wave of technology is something that School District 51 cannot afford to miss. But while that wave is critical to keeping students engaged in learning, he cautioned that teachers still need to give students the skills to be safe.

  “Kids are moving exponentially. And I’m afraid that the people that we pay to teach these kids aren’t keeping up with them. We need to keep these kids safe, very safe. It’s kind of like taking our kids to the pool without a lifeguard. None of us would do that,” said Lockhart.   “The internet is not a pool – it’s an ocean. We need to make really sure that we have all the things in place so we don’t have creepy people contacting kids through our school servers, that they’re free to learn, and the information that they’re getting access to is good, safe information.”   Lockhart gave a presentation to the board of trustees at their last meeting, Nov. 9, to update them on the different uses of technology. Starting with an overview of the provincial government’s system for schools that teachers use for grading and tracking students, and students use to sign up for courses and monitor their grades, Lockhart then moved on to highlight the new equipment being used in 30 classrooms around the region.   From the new SMART boards that project information from computers screens and can be interactive, to the use of document cameras which, similar to old overhead projectors, simple enlarge your own documents or writing, the technology has been assisting teachers to reach their students. Teachers have their own websites where they post information and class notes, GFSS TV on YouTube gets the students to make daily announcements in an engaging, humourous way, and texting may just be the next step.   Trustee Vicki Gee agreed that engaging students in ways that they normally communicate is helping them to learn.   “I see teachers posting notes on websites as removing a really big barrier to a lot of kids for learning,” said Gee. “Some kids lack skills because of learning disabilities, and why wouldn’t we give them a jumping off point of already having that information and then moving on to what they do with the information.”   While technology is on an exponential growth cycle, Trustee Kris Sabourin commented on the trend towards a loss of culture in society.   “Our children, because they text, they Facebook, they do everything that way I’m worried we are not teaching them body language or verbal communication. If we don’t watch how much technology we allow our children to use and we’re losing the verbal dialogue those are going to be the kids that will get not get hired because they don’t know verbal communication. That would be my main concern with bringing a whole bunch of technology into the schools.”   But the technology edge is not one that the area can ignore, said Lockhart. “We need to start thinking: we don’t do technology initiatives, these are organizational initiatives. We’re changing the way we’re doing business and thinking.”   Links:  GFSS TV – YouTube GFSS website with teachers web links

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