Keeping an eye on the digital revolution

By MaryHelen Swanson, editor

I still haven’t mastered my simple cell phone. There are only a few things I can do with proficiency: make calls, text and take and send photos.

Maybe that’s enough, I really don’t have time for a lot of other options.

But that is not the case with my grandchildren or yours.

It still seems like a sci-fi movie when I see children of all ages walking around with cell phones in their hands, many with smart phones. (I guess by today’s standards my phone isn’t so smart, or maybe it’s just the operator.)

Anyway. Like Dr. Henton noted in her school board report last week, ipads and other digital devices are practically glued into the hands of our young people these days.

She spoke of the D3 initiative started at the high school after winter vacation, where the students are not only allowed to bring their digital devices to school but encouraged to do so for enhanced learning opportunities. Some kinks are still being worked out, but it will be moving to the middle school for the third trimester.

She spoke of a conference she recently attended where she heard about the successes of school districts who have taken this digital thing seriously.

She noted that the Lakeville school district has just purchased 11,000 ipads for its students. She talked about the Little Falls district’s “Project Real” which is energizing students through the use of digital devices. It’s a growing popularity, she said.

Little Falls started a pilot program with its 5th graders last year, putting an ipad in the hand of each student. The students love it. It has changed learning and teaching as the same time, Henton noted.

You know something is working when high school students are asking their teachers if they can do projects using their digital devices.

The trend, Henton shared, is for school districts to put an ipad in the hands of every student. Not only does this enhance learning, but theoretically could save thousands on the purchase of text books.

This is something the NB district will want to look at, especially as it continues to face budget deficits.

Another plus to this digital revolution is that it has attracted students to the Little Falls district. Certainly, that is something NB will also want to consider, also.

As the district administrators look for ways to cut $1.3 million from the budget (last week the school board found ways to cut over $800,000 from the $2.5 million projected deficit) perhaps cutting won’t be the process at all. At least in the future.

Maybe adding digital resources and reducing costs of printed materials will be the way to balance the budget. It could possibly work, especially if it attracts more students to this district.

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