Technological Teaching

Technology is becoming a crucial part of the classroom experience

by Aysia Lane, Reporter

From touch-screen computers to virtual assignments, the classroom has become a home to technology. Students have become accustomed to the paperless homeworks and online gradebooks, but it seems that a new era of technology is on the rise and coming to the classroom.

“I love [all the new technology],” statistics teacher Leila Park said. “I think it’s our third or fourth year teaching [statistics] in our district, so we need a lot [of resources] to plan out our curriculum.”

PISD issued out Google Chromebooks to all Plano classrooms in 2017, as a district initiative approved by the district’s board of trustees. The Chromebooks are part of a four-year plan to give students more access to technology in the classroom.

“We really try to incorporate a lot of technology into [the curriculum], especially since we have the Chromebooks,” Park said. “We’re trying to put all of our PowerPoints into what we call Nearpods.”

According to Park, Nearpods will be worked on during this summer and implemented for the upcoming 2019-2020 school year. Nearpod is a tool for teachers that allows them to create interactive lessons. The interactive lessons will give teachers a variety of features, such as live student response evaluations and post-lesson reports. The Nearpods will also be specific to PISD.

Even with an influx of technology coming to the classroom and making life simpler for students and teachers alike, physical textbooks and “old-school’” methods of teaching may still be of use.

“Each student has been given a code to register for the textbook online, so when they’re in class they can use the hard-copy [textbooks] but outside of class they have to use the online textbook,” AP Environmental Science teacher Emily Baker said.

Technology is meant to be efficient and streamline daily processes, but teachers and students have experienced their fair share of technical difficulties that prove to make quick tasks more problematic.

“There have been a lot of issues [with students being able to] access the textbooks,” Park said. “Sometimes I would have instances where kids won’t be able to finish their homework because they couldn’t [access it].”

Even when things go smoothly and students successfully access the online materials, the assignments may not always be completed. Mastersed found that 65 percent of students report using a laptop for homework, opening themselves to an endless supply of distractions.

“I personally don’t like having an online textbook because honestly, in my experience, students are much less likely to access and use it,” Baker said. “A big part of [AP Environmental Science] is reading. There’s reading assigned every night and I would say maybe 50 to 60 percent of my students actually do the readings. It may even be less than that.”

Some students may not have the necessary technology accessible to them outside of school. PISD created a way to allow students access to textbooks and other classroom materials called [email protected]. The program provides a free home computer system to students that qualify.

PISD’s efforts to integrate more technology into the classroom have the potential to spark change in students’ learning experience for the better. Since it’s a turn in perspective

“[Technology] opens up a lot more opportunities that we might not have had in the past like virtual labs and other things that were either just out of our [budget], or just because we do have one of the largest AP Environmental programs in the country, so there are things we just can’t afford [to do],” Baker said. “[the labs we teach] really cool things, but technology allows for the virtual side of that.”