The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

November 12, 2013

Technology changing the classroom environment

OTTUMWA — Technology is finding its way into every facet of life, and the classroom is no exception. The difference is, though, what you're getting out of it at the end of the day.

At Monday's school board meeting, Ottumwa High School government teacher Scott Guest brought several of the tablets his students get to use while in his classroom. There are 30 tablets on a cart in his room that students sign out when they come in.

"We were going to order new textbooks, but we decided this was the better way to go," Guest said.

"They're engaged in ideas that are at a higher level. It's not just basic recall of facts or memorization of dates. It's 'Can you make a claim, back it up with facts and explain your position?'"

The tablets are used to look up information and read many different kinds of articles and documents. They're not being used to submit assignments or take tests, but the information the students are gleaning from is endless.

"I think one of the biggest things I see is that kids are thinking more in my class. That can transfer over into so many things," he explained. "I'm not saying 'OK, turn to page 330 and we're going to study chapter eight.'"

Guest's assignments are also all online, giving them easy access anywhere in the building, at home or any computer with Internet access. Parents can get an access code and use the same program to follow along with what their kids are doing in class.

There is also a forum where students can post comments about their class discussions. While he's always patrolling for anything inappropriate, Guest said it's providing one more way for the teenagers to be involved.

"They may not speak out in class, but they will be more comfortable with the technology," he said.

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