Make Sure Your Children Are Getting the Best Education Possible
When parents first visit a school their children might attend that year, the school could showcase its extensive library, its award-winning teachers or its well-appointed athletic programs. One of the most important things a school can offer your child, though, is a good grounding in the latest technology.
If you don’t know how to operate your cutting-edge smartphone, ask a 15-year-old who has grown up with technology. Kids are digital natives, and that means they haven’t had to learn how to use search engines or spreadsheet programs on top of older tools. They’ve learned on these tools from the start, and according to Psychology Today, that’s a good thing. Digital kids develop a better nonsense filter, have larger social networks and have vastly greater access to information than previous generations had available to them.
Why Technology in Schools Matters
Your child probably has access to a computer and maybe a smartphone already; how much of a difference can access to technology in schools make? According to Bill Gates in ComputerWorld magazine, schools play a crucial role in using available technology well. Teaching can now cross platforms effortlessly, allowing students to watch a lecture on YouTube or read assignments in digital formats. The Microsoft founder noted that advances in tablet and smartphone technology have made these devices accessible even for students on a budget.
As costs decrease, he believes, schools will integrate technology seamlessly into their lesson plans. Some schools already do this with lesson plans that include online research or presentations. For students who don’t have access to smartphones or computers at home, school technology can help them bridge economic gaps. These students gain the computer skills and training they need to succeed in college and beyond when their school welcomes technological innovation as part of the classroom environment.
Check Your School’s Tech
When looking at schools after buying a new California home, finding out where your child’s school stands on technology can be a challenge. If you aren’t current about the state of the art technology yourself, there are plenty of tools to help. School profile sites now list available technology as a feature for covered schools, giving you a good idea of what you’ll find in the computer lab. A site such as GreatSchools.org lets you compare local schools based on parents’ and other reviewers’ comments. You can also follow the lead of tech-savvy kids and communicate within your own social network to learn more about local schools. Make connections on Facebook or LinkedIn with other parents and ask questions about prospective school choices.
A visit to the school speaks volumes. While you don’t need to know if the school has the latest technology, even a quick glance will show you how well the equipment is maintained. Are there enough computers for each child in the class to have one, or do they share? How old are the computers? A room filled with old CRT monitors and bulky beige boxes instead of sleek, compact desktops or laptops could mean the school needs a significant technology update. One California school invested close to $17 million on technology upgrades, and now there’s one computer for every 2.5 students.
Technology alone is only part of the picture; the school also needs personnel who know how to use the equipment. Ask about your school’s teacher training program and how computers are integrated into lesson plans. Not every subject lends itself to computer learning, but technology can be a major asset for language learning, English composition, history and science coursework. A computer science class should have a knowledgeable teacher who keeps pace with the latest technology news even if the classroom’s equipment is a bit older than the newest systems on electronics store shelves. A computer science teacher must also know how kids are using the equipment and monitor their class activities.
Technology in the classroom is good for everyone. It helps schools meet the needs of all the students, improves learning and research skills, promotes access to education, improves workforce skills and helps students achieve their goals for reading, writing and arithmetic. Look for a tech-savvy schoolroom to give your kids a good understanding of the technology that will shape their lives.
Alison Johnston is a writer living in the great Denver area who enjoys solutions and digital communications. She is a young writer trying to find her voice in the business world.