June 27, 2014 11:44:54 AM
Every child in the Lowndes County School District will soon have access to a personal digital device.
The district is partnering with Apple in the upcoming school year so each of the roughly 5,000 child ren in the district will have access to a laptop or an iPad. The program is called 1:1 Digital Learning Initiative. Assistant superintendent and curriculum coordinator Dr. Robin Ballard said the partnership would help students prepare for life beyond their school years.
"The Lowndes County School District is embarking on an exciting venture that will take their students well into the 21st century college and workforce poised for success," Ballard said.
Ballard said the 1:1 Digital Learning Initiative is a comprehensive integration of technology where every student and every teacher has direct personal access to a digital device at all times and for any instruction.
"This is a program where innovative and engaged learning experiences envelope the student in meaningful and relevant application of knowledge and skills," Ballard said.
The program, which will cost the district approximately $3.5 million over a four-year period, will be implemented over the next two years, Ballard said.
"Our 1:1 Digital Learning Initiative will occur in two phases," she said. "In Phase 1, the 2014-2015 school year, each of our teachers and administrators will receive a MacBook Pro (laptop computer) for school and home use and in Phase 2, (the 2015-2016 school year), all students in grades K-12 will receive a new device. Students in grades K-2 will receive an iPad Mini, students in grades 3-5 will receive a larger size iPad, and these devices will remain at school. Students in grades 6-12 will receive MacBooks for school and home use."
Ballard said today's students have grown up in the digital age, so using the technology in school is a natural progression.
"We realize our students come to us as 'digital natives,' meaning their learning styles and modes are different from students five-to-10 years ago and we must rise to this challenge in order to truly teach the whole child," she said.
Ballard then compared "digital natives" to adults, or "digital immigrants."
"Digital natives prefer receiving information quickly and want that information from multiple sources," she said. "They are masters at multi-tasking and parallel processing. They want and crave pictures, sounds, and video before they want the text. It gives them a context upon which to grow their previous knowledge. Most adults, on the other hand, are considered to be 'digital immigrants' meaning we prefer having a focused text from which to gather information and we like to take in that information in our private and personal space. We like that information to be presented in a linear, sequential way. "
By providing one-on-one technology options, Ballard said students are poised for success.
"It has been shown through research that technology-rich classes and schools promote school-home outreach, increased assessment scores, increased attendance for students and staff, a shift in instructional style to a more problem-based approach, fewer discipline problems, a higher parental involvement in school-related activities, and to be an overall boost for morale," she said. "We can't wait to see this in action in our schools."
Sarah Fowler covered crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch.