Technology broadens how students learn

By ALLEN LAMAN
alaman@dcherald.com

The start of school is just around the corner. Do you know how much learning your child will do on an electronic device?

The total amount of digital content consumed as part of students’ curriculums varies from district-to-district and from grade-to-grade, but many Dubois County students learn at least half of their curriculums from an electronic device, according to local school technology directors and integration specialists.

Students at Greater Jasper Schools still get 80 percent of their content from traditional textbooks, whereas 20 percent of their information comes from purchased digital sources, according to technology coordinator Kristy Vaughn. At Southwest Schools, technology integration specialist Katy Beck estimated about 70 percent of learning happening in the district comes from a device.

Students at Northeast Dubois Schools consume 50 percent of their curriculum electronically, while 30 percent is from textbooks, and 20 percent comes through other materials, said district technology specialist Shanna Steckler. Karen Kippenbrock, director of technology for Southeast Dubois Schools, estimated that students in grades 5-12 get 50 percent of their content from digital sources, with about 10 percent of content in kindergarten through fourth grade coming electronically.

“There’s definitely a shift in the delivery of instructional materials,” Vaughn said. “Not always, but you’re definitely correct in saying that a lot of schools are shifting to trying to have that blended learning environment that has both traditional methods and uses technology to enhance (students’) learning experience.”

Kippenbrock said in an email that teachers don’t teach digital content, but rather teach using digital content. 

“It is the way students learn now,” she wrote. “They are born with digital devices in their hands.”

Vaughn explained the use of tech in schools also prepares the kids for life after they graduate — when they’ll have to know how to use technology regardless if they enter college or go directly into the workforce. In an email, Steckler said the schools’ devices — all Northeast Dubois students have iPads — allow the kids to scour the internet to find reliable resources instead of just being told the material by a teacher.

“The students love searching YouTube and can then get the material in different aspects that help connect to that student,” Steckler wrote. “We all learn differently and having tech in the classroom helps us do this.”

Jasper, Southwest Dubois, Northeast Dubois and Southeast Dubois all have a 1-1 student-to-technology device ratio, meaning each county student in kindergarten through 12th grade attending schools in those districts has an assigned Apple iPad, Google Chromebook, laptop or similar electronic device. Some of these devices are kept at school, while others go home with students at the end of the day.

“It really breaks down barriers in the classroom for students because they’re able to do their own research, they’re able to communicate with others around the world and collaborate and they’re able to be creative,” Beck said of online learning.

She later added: “It really just individualizes instruction, rather than just the textbook and a teacher traditionally teaching.”

Students attending all four Dubois County School Districts will return to class Thursday, Aug. 9.




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