Scottsdale pushes for all-digital classrooms

Scottsdale Unified School District wants every high school freshman to have his or her own laptop and schools to be equipped with interactive whiteboards, digital cameras and wireless Internet connections.

Riding the latest push in high-tech, a district in Arizona is starting a pilot project where nearly everything in the classroom will be done on computers, reports The East Valley Tribune.

The Scottsdale Unified School District wants every high school freshman to have his or her own laptop and schools to be equipped with interactive whiteboards, digital cameras and wireless Internet connections. The district is asking voters to approve an $89 million measure to pay for all these goodies.

“Imagine what some 19th century school marm would think,” said Danny Robledo, a teacher at St. Ambrose in Tucson. “In 10 years, this will be the norm.”

To go along with buying the new devices, the district must pay for training to get educators up to speed on the new equipment. SMART boards cost $1,200 each but are a great tools for keeping students engaged in class. Along with maps and graphs, a teacher can add music, text and other interactive elements.

“With PowerPoint, they’re just watching it go by. This . . . they can go up and write on it,” said Julie Solomon, training manager for CCS Presentation Systems, the company that distributes the boards.

Although students may be facinated by the new technology, many teachers have a hard time using it.

“It can be hit or miss in a classroom,” he said. “You might see students using a computer in one class where teachers are on-board. You go into another classroom where it might not be in use because the teachers are fearful.”

Some district staffs can help teachers incorporate technology into the lesson plans but some districts can't afford to hired IT staff. Teachers can take distance-learning classes to catch up on the new programs.

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