The Ottumwa Courier

Education

September 21, 2012

Cardinal School District rolls out hundreds of Kuno tablets to students

ELDON — Students throughout the Cardinal School District continued the trend of technology-infused classrooms Thursday as they each received new Android-powered tablets.

In total, 420 sixth- through 12-graders will receive Kuno tablets that they can take home. Third- through fifth-graders will also receive tablets, but they must leave them at school. Each tablet cost less than $500.

Cameron Chamberlin, technology director for the school district, said the school’s four-year contract was up on their Apple Macbooks, and while they considered several different options, including iPads, the Kuno tablets won.

Teachers will begin delivering content to students through the devices, such as textbooks, audio files and videos.

“We’re looking at flipping the classroom,” Chamberlin said. “Lectures will be pushed out and can be done at home, and assignments will be done in class.”

The tablets arrive with CurriculumLoft, a digital curriculum management system which allows teachers to sync notes, lectures, videos, assignments and more to each student’s tablet.

“It levels the playing field,” Chamberlin said, especially for those students who don’t have computers or Internet access at home.

For those without Internet access at home, Chamberlin said the tablets are a perfect fit because they do not require the Internet to access content once it’s on the device.

“It gives them the tools that if they don’t understand a word, there’s a dictionary attached,” Chamberlin said. “They don’t have to go looking for it. They can follow links to more information.”

The minute textbooks are printed, they’re considered out of date, Chamberlin said, whereas with the tablets, information is constantly updated.

“It’s more of a live learning environment,” he said.

The school district was the third in the state to participate in Apple’s 1:1 Laptop Initiative four years ago, which promotes one computer for each student.

Cardinal’s senior class, most of whom have had technology incorporated into their classes since eighth grade, were excited to begin using the tablets.

“They can be good and bad, because if it works, it’s great, but if not, then we spend the entire class trying to figure out what’s wrong,” said Connor Doree of Eldon.

A new classmate of his, Brittney Cline, just moved to the Cardinal School District this year from Fairfield, where she did not have her own tablet or laptop.

“I think it would be helpful in Fairfield because there are so many students, and there’s a lot of miscommunication,” she said.

Jerald Harter, high school science teacher, said the tablets allow teachers to better give out educational materials to their students.

“Four years ago, you would give them a book, say, ‘Read Chapter 1,’ and then test them on Chapter 1,” Harter said.

Now, teachers can find information that relates to “Chapter 1” and push it out to students through the tablets so students can do more research, “fact-finding” as Harter calls it, and then test them on that.

Instead of simply regurgitating vocabulary terms or facts students read in a textbook, they’re now “finding how it applies to the world,” Harter said.

And since the United States has dropped in terms of education compared to other nations, incorporating technology into a student’s daily education will make them more competitive.

“HOTS,” or High Order Thinking Skills, were abandoned for a long time, Harter said.

“We’ve got to make these kids thinkers,” he said.

With newer technology comes the realization that sometimes the students are smarter than the teachers when it comes to using it, Harter said.

“I’ve got to stay ahead of the game,” he said. “Instead of ‘cookbook labs,’ now I can give them the raw materials and they can bake the cake. It might burn the first couple times, but eventually they’ll make something people would buy.”

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