By Jacqueline Kloos
Electronic devices are playing an unprecedented role in everyday life, and education must adapt in order to keep up with such innovations.
Smart boards, teacher websites, PowerSchool and Schoology are perhaps the most obvious examples of new technology locally.
Smart boards are similar to standard white or black boards, but information can be modified similarly to a computer.
Smart boards can also record their displays as well as surrounding noise, allowing teachers to save and upload their lectures to the Internet. These lectures can be posted to teacher websites, allowing absent students to keep up with their classmates as well as a resource for review.
Another important Internet source for students is PowerSchool, the online gradebook.
Parents also have the ability to track their child’s grades through PowerSchool, providing a much more real-time report than grade cards and interims. However, PowerSchool is not only a way to check scores; the site can also be used to register for classes, read school news and monitor attendance history.
The Columbus Dispatch reports that Westerville pays approximately $30,000 less annually for PowerSchool than surrounding districts do for their electronic information systems. It adds that PowerSchool is “cheap, convenient and environmentally-friendly.”
New technology is not without its critics. PowerSchool has found one in social studies teacher Tim Smith. Smith said that PowerSchool can be a waste of time considering many students never check it.
“Why put in the time [to update PowerSchool] when only a few people care?” Smith said.
Freshman Audrey Hammond, although appreciative of homework reminders sent out by teachers through text messages, is also not ignorant of the inconveniencies of technology.
“If a computer crashes you can lose your work,” Hammond said.
Greg Lewis, director of IT for Westerville City Schools, cited examples of both the benefits and hindrances of the surge in technology. Lewis said Schoology, an online learning system, has allowed students to learn “outside the traditional classroom.”
However, he added, “The biggest problem we have been faced with is keeping up with the demand of the Internet…
“As we move forward with 21st century learning and teaching, we need to make sure that our current buildings and infra-structure can support these demands,” Lewis concluded.
The appearance of new technology in education has undeniably brought with it both advantages and disadvantages. Students have access to new resources and even the ability to opt out of traditional education. But, these new systems require additional time from teachers and building updates to accommodate them.
With so many changes to the classroom in only the past few years, it is easy to wonder what the future of education will bring.
Lewis speculated on the development of a portable device that students can use to access “any curriculum, anytime and anywhere.”
Regardless of the specifics, it is reasonable to infer that future technology will come with benefits and troubles of its own.