During the last session, the Utah State Legislature decided to take a $3 million chance on a new educational program in a handful of schools this year. Titled the “Smart School Technology Act," the program incorporates electronic learning as a supplemental platform to existing school curriculum.
“Our curriculum in today's age is changing, and this pilot project is going to help us dive into that. You know the rope learning and the drill and kill ideas of the past have not got us where we need to be. This is a tool that will help our students help create projects to solve problems and think critically for deeper understanding.”
That’s Provo’s Dixon Middle School Principal Jarod Sites. His school, along with North Sevier High School and Gunnison Valley Elementary were selected to test new learning techniques with the iSchool program. The iSchool program matches up each student with an iPad to help enhance their learning experience.
“For years, many of us have participated in the traditional dissection of a frog, there’s an app for that now. There are so many unique opportunities across every single curriculum. But some of the most simple and basic things are for students to record themselves and to get immediate feedback based upon that. Or, get immediate feedback on a writing program, or immediate feedback from a math tutorial that as teachers we haven’t been able to give every single student every single day.”
Principal Sites doesn’t believe the iPad will replace the needed help of a teacher in the classroom.
“Putting an iPad in the hands of a kid isn’t going to automatically result in academic achievement results. The iPad is a powerful tool, but the teacher who coordinates the use of the iPad is an even more powerful tool.”
Dixon Middle School will begin the iSchool pilot program this November. If the program succeeds, Utah may soon begin to implement the program in more and more schools across the state.
“We look forward to the results and what it is going to do for our students. Not only in immediate things in our classroom, but long term and having our students be literate in technology. To be able to go into life without any fear of technology is going to give them a leg up. Our world is constantly changing and the iPad is one of many tools that our students can use. Their confidence levels are going to go through the roof, and that’s what we are really excited about."