Do Teachers use Technology?

Later this semester, teachers will receive some type of mobile device, be it laptop, tablet, or otherwise.

Given that some teachers still struggle with using their SMART Boards, there’s some concern surrounding teachers’ ability to effectively use their new devices.

All classrooms are equipped with at least one desktop, laptops can be checked out by the cart, and projectors are hung from the ceiling.

In the math classes, the Smart Boards are utilized to teach anything from basic algebra to polynomial functions to complex differential equations.

“I think of a lot of, if not all of, the math teachers teach their lessons on the SMART Board using SMART Notebook software instead of powerpoints or writing on the whiteboard,” said Laura O’Neil, math department chair and teacher.

She notes that many other tools, like a TI 89 calculator, can be projected onto the board.

O’Neil is looking towards the future too, saying she would be excited for laptops because most teachers are required to move and share classrooms throughout the day. A mobile device would let them simply carry their work with them. With a tablet, she could move it around the room, and it could be written on directly, then projected up to the SMART Board remotely.

Physics teacher Oather Strawderman expertly utilizes technology both in the classroom and in the laboratory.

“He draws examples [on the SMART Board] of how the experiments we’re doing are going to go or how they should have gone,” said Henry Ohse, junior advanced physics student. “He doesn’t do powerpoints … He makes it up as he goes and does it all by hand.”

In the lab, students employ graphing and data collection software, and AP physics students get the opportunity to create electric circuits in the lab. Many of Strawderman’s students consider him to be the most “tech-savvy” of all the instructors at the school.

With new tech–including tablets, smartphones and computers–making its way to classrooms all around the globe, the school is adapting with the curve. For example, many teachers have websites on which they post assignments or homework. Many even have registered twitter accounts that they use to keep students up to date with assignments and class work. Spanish teacher Paul Rosen recently tweeted “The SpanMan will be back in action tomorrow… we will have vocab quizzes on Tue.”

A possible issue with new technology is the cost. In an economy only recently recovering from a serious recession, school districts all across the nation are underfunded. Comparatively, Free State doesn’t have it too bad, but SMART Boards cost a grand total of $5,099, according to Modern Chalkboard, a retailer of the device. Installed in every room in the school, the total cost is certainly substantial. MacBooks cost about $1,175 each and Dell devices cost about $1,168 each.

Certainly, tech can help students learn, but only if teachers use it correctly. Training courses that teachers are required to attend could certainly help to introduce and train our educators, but if it’s not enough, it may not be worth the staggering price tag.