Education

Technology can transform the 21st century classroom

draldosicoliWalk into a classroom today and you’ll see some things familiar from your past – and some things not so familiar. Today’s classrooms are necessarily different than they used to be, because our world is a different place than it used to be.

When students graduate high school, they are expected to know how to access information instantly, effectively and efficiently in order to solve problems and develop solutions at their jobs and in their lives. Schools need to teach these critical skills, and that requires up-to-date technology, tools and training.

On the upcoming November 4 Election Day, Robbinsdale Area School District residents will be asked to vote on two school funding requests:
• Question 1 is a request to renew the existing operating levy
• Question 2 is a request to approve a new technology levy

Question 2 is on the ballot because technology is necessary to prepare students to thrive in our digital world and join a 21st century workforce – and we are one of the few Hennepin County school districts that do not have a voter-approved technology levy. With a dedicated source of funding for technology, we would be better able to:
• Help students learn according to their learning style.
• Give students more learning options
• Help teachers manage student learning
• Provide instant feedback on assessments
• Allow access to information from anywhere, anytime

How can appropriate technology transform a classroom? Many ways:
• Online accelerated learning: Students who have mastered a lesson can move ahead to the next lesson, while those who are still struggling can get instant and focused help from the teacher.
• Accessing the world: Students use Skype and other teleconferencing programs to join lectures at universities, international events, NASA and other places around the world.
• Interactive learning: Teachers use SMART boards and handheld devices to demonstrate a lesson and get instant engagement and answers from students.
• Instant feedback: Teachers use digital assessments to provide instant feedback to students on their assignments. Knowing each student’s progress enables teachers to make immediate changes to the teaching or resources provided.

Technology can impact learning, teaching, assessment, productivity, infrastructure and support. With a technology levy, Robbinsdale Area Schools would be able to provide up-to-date resources and tools to prepare students for careers and college. Without the funding, we would experience a widened technology gap between our school district and our neighbors. With a technology levy, we could provide tools and systems for personalized learning for all students. Without the funding, staff and students would be faced with outdated technology, limiting opportunities for innovation. With a technology levy, we could provide critical technology support and training for our staff. Without the funding, our staff would struggle and instructional time would decrease due to slow equipment and system failures.

We know that technology is everywhere today, with smart phones, iPads and other tablets, laptop computers and more. The Internet, email and social media have transformed how we communicate, how we access information, how we share and how we learn. Used properly and with the right support and training, technology can be an incredible asset to a learning environment – for staff and students alike.

There is more information about both of our levy requests at www.rdale.org, just click on the green “Vote Nov 4” button. One word of caution: in past school elections, sometimes outside groups will come out right before election day with strange claims about the school district that are designed to confuse you. As a school district, we are obligated to provide you with the facts – please come to us if you are concerned about anything you hear or read.

There are a number of important issues on the ballot in addition to our levy requests, including races for Governor, legislators and school board members. All these votes will have an impact on our community and our schools, so please learn all you can and vote on November 4.

October 29, 2014
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