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Schools spotlight technology efforts

Caitlin Rickard crickard@lebanondemocrat.com • Dec 17, 2015 at 6:20 PM

Lebanon Schools Board of Education met Monday evening where it put a spotlight on recent efforts with technology in preparation for the 1:1 initiative’s rollout in August in the district’s middle schools. 

Previously, Geoff Atchley’s eighth-grade social studies class at Walter J. Baird was asked to participate in an “online classroom” trial that allowed the students to work solely on Chromebooks to use technology to do their work instead of the typical paper and pencil approach.

Atchley said the students use the Internet and rely on Google Docs to write, edit and share documents from notes to assignments to extra credit, all online. He said about 85 percent of his 160 students chose to participate in the new technology-heavy approach and the remaining 15 percent stuck with the ways they were accustomed to.

Within Google Docs, Atchley said students are able to make notes, graphs and highlight their work, and in turn, he is able to view, comment on and edit their work, all in one step.

“Really I’ve been amazed at the results,” Atchley said.

According to Atchley, nothing has changed in the way the class is conducted and reviews and discussions in the classroom are still held as usual. The change, he said, has came in the way the students go about doing their assigned work.

“It’s enhanced their creativity, it allows them to use the Internet to look up sources and more details to make their understanding and writing better,” Atchley said. “Being paperless it puts more responsibility on the student and allows them to do things like make their own study guide and go out and look for answers instead of knowing where to look or me just giving them answers.”

Students from Atchley’s class at the meeting noted that Google Docs is also easily accessible on any mobile device, like laptops or phones, which is a huge difference from hindering paper notes they might not take the time to pull out and read again. 

The students also explained how technology has made the learning process more fun and enjoyable.

“They can get so much more creative with this and they know how to use this stuff already, so why not gear them toward this and put technology toward learning instead of just playing?” Atchley said.

Scott Benson, director of schools, said though it may not be next year, the district was evolving toward a no-textbook plan, with textbook money going toward technology in the future so every child would have this opportunity.

“The excitement, engagement and achievement level I see in these students is what we’ve seen in other schools who have changed,” Benson said. 

As a result of the technology switch in his class, Atchley said that at the 22-and-a-half-week benchmark the results had “skyrocketed.”

“I was nervous about this at first, but now I’ve completely bought in,” Atchley said.

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