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Role of Technology Evolving, Growing in Ohio K-12 Schools

From take-home tablets and virtual learning to educational apps, portable WiFi, security cameras, GPS for vehicles and STEM lab software, technology is transforming schools both academically and operationally.

Classroom Computers
(TNS) — While technology has been utilized by school districts for years in various forms, COVID-19 has forced many schools to take a hard look at the technology they had in place and, in some instances, find ways to use it.

When schools were closed due to the pandemic last year, educational instruction went from in-person classes to online learning from home. Since then students and staff were able to return to the classroom, but with the numbers of COVID cases on the rise, schools are preparing for a possible return to remote schooling.

Districts like East Guernsey and Cambridge City Schools are prepared for a potential return to remote learning by ensuring the districts and students have the needed equipment. However technology goes beyond classroom instruction.

East Guernsey students in grades six through 12 have devices to take home with them daily. Students in grades kindergarten through fifth can take the devices home if needed.

“Our campus has been a Google Apps for Education site for approximately seven years. Most classwork can be assigned electronically but there are instances where teachers send paper material home as needed,” said Chase Rosser, superintendent, East Guernsey Schools. “K-5 teachers tend to use a combination of paper materials, virtual tools, and virtual teaching lessons when instructing remotely.”

The district also has hot spots students who don’t have access to Internet can use during an extended period of remote learning.

Each student in Cambridge City Schools has access to a Chromebook.

Both districts have extended their WIFI capabilities to their parking lots for students who need Internet access.

Cambridge City Schools also has portable WIFI systems that can be placed in a car or school bus and broadcast a WIFI signal.

Superintendent Dan Coffman is hoping to see additional broadband services brought into the area, and he believes at some point areas of the district will go to remote learning for a period of time.

“Technology in schools isn’t necessarily due to COVID,” Coffman said. “The utilization of technology as a tool or a resource by our teachers has been there for a long time from when laptops first came out then netbooks and smartboards.”

Coffman also noted that technology looks a lot different now than when it was first utilized by schools and is being used in all aspects of education — teaching, sports, security and administration — and is being taught to students through STEM classes.

Coaches are now using high-speed cameras that can follow a ball down the field and watch an instant replay immediately on iPads. Students and coaches use software in gym and weight classes.

According to Coffman, the schools’ security system and handheld radios are high-end technology that allows him to talk to anyone else with a radio including the police department.

GPS is used on vehicles allowing the district to tract their locations.

Coffman said through the use of technology he can quickly get a mass message out to all the parents and staff by email or text sometimes in less than 30 seconds.

Technology also makes grading tets easier for teachers and can provide them immediately feedback on how they are teaching.

“We continue to upgrade our WIFI services, bandwidth speed and the software packages that can run on the Chromebooks and upgrade our technology labs,” Coffman said. “Our STEM labs run high end powerful machines to run the engineer software that they are using. There is a whole host of technology that has been in schools since pre-COVID.”

However, what COVID gas done is to let the schools know to be prepared to incorporate technology into every single room and make sure teachers have the ability to adapt their teaching methods.

“That’s what we did over the last 18 months since the initial shutdown, but really especially over the last year,” Coffman said.

“Technology is a part of every aspect that we do as school district. It’s amazing how technology is changing us not just academically but also changing us operationally. Technology makes us better, it makes us more efficient.”

©2021 The Daily Jeffersonian, Cambridge, Ohio. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.