In today’s digital world, it is hard to imagine a time when new concepts were explored through textbooks and lecture alone. The Internet, which has enabled the open exchange of information and instant global communication, is shaking up traditional class structure and curriculum in tandem with an ever-increasing variety of newly developed technology tools and software-based solutions for K-12 students. Today’s technologically-advanced classrooms look differently, with students gathering around a common screen such as a computer monitor, interactive whiteboard or smart screen. Students are using the internet to explore a variety of concepts throughout the learning process and ultimately they are developing solutions to meaningful challenges. These classrooms are designed to integrate core concepts with key skills such as technology literacy and problem-solving, both critical in twenty-first-century learning curriculum.
The desire to implement some of these new classroom techniques requires almost a paradigm shift for educators and all of us brought up with a pattern of education that has existed for multiple generations. “(Today’s) student has online access to a billion times more knowledge than we can ever give them. We need to teach them how to be good learners, that is where I’m headed with what I do,” Groton’s Technology Integration Coach Jacob Roe explained. “ I want the teachers to start looking at their kids differently, they may know more about technology than you do, and that’s okay. What we need to do is utilize technology to help us teach.”
During the school year, Roe has been providing Groton Central School District’s teachers with technology training to enhance their teaching. All Groton teachers have had the opportunity to take advantage of training in hardware and software solutions for the classroom, including smart board training, Google apps for education, Plato Learning, Schoology, Thinking Blocks, web pages and eportfolios, digital media production and more. Recently, Groton Central Schools received a three year Learning Technology Grant for further development of technology skills for teachers and professional training for two teachers within the district to coach and share their expertise with their peers. “To stay relevant we need to change as educators,” Roe said, “We don’t need to do things the way they have already been done. Technology is not going to go away, it is only going to get more advanced.” Although he admits it is still far off, Roe’s goal is for classrooms to utilize technology in such a way that they are virtually paperless. In a paperless classroom, students use internet-capable devices to create and submit classwork online.