Kindergarten Scholars Embrace Technology|Southern Education Desk
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Local kindergarten students are embracing new educational technology.
A pilot program is introducing i-Pads into two Monroe City School district classrooms.
And the project could provide a portal into the future of education.
Sallie Humble Elementary School is one of two schools in the Monroe City District participating in the i-Pad program.
i-Pads are marketed as versatile, easy to use with nearly endless educational applications.
The technology-as-education project is slated to run three years.
Early indicators are that the program is popular in kindergarten.
Five year old scholar, Jason Fisher explained to KEDMS's Southern Education Desk reporter, John Hughes, some of the computer's complexities.
"(JH – ‘what’s your favorite part of it?’) Playing games. (JH – ‘can you tell me about your favorite game?’) A lady bug game. (JH – ‘What do you try to make the ladybug do?’) Try to make it move. (JH – ‘Does it spell words, or solve math problems?’) It spells words. (‘What’s your favorite word that it’s helped you spell?’) Cat. (JH – ‘Can you spell it for me?’) C-A-T."
One of the themes most apparent to the untutored observer is the blurring of the lines between playing and learning.
Kindergarten teacher, Kalyn Benoit, explains.
"The kids are using i-Pads for – they do it for math and English, reading. They have a bunch of apps – free apps at that they can just go and play and learn on it. They think that they’re playing. They’re really learning while they’re playing."
But it’s not all fun and games – there is a serious research component to the program.
Sallie Humble’s principal, David Claxton explains.
"We’re supposed to keep this program for three years, and have the same children in the same class with the i-Pads though kindergarten, first, second grade. And then I guess the research will show what the i-Pads have accomplished, how much more children have learned, what they haven’t learned."
Kindergarten teacher Kalyn Benoit says keeping the same group of children together for the duration of a three year study is rare.
She says that keeping the young classmates together will help form the basis of data on the effectiveness of i-Pad use, contrasted with the progress of children who have not had access to the computers in the classroom.
Monroe City Schools could see more i-Pad use if the results justify it.
And that’s a big ‘if.’
University of Louisiana at Monroe associate professor of instructional technology, Mike Beutner, says i-Pads are likely to boost children’s interest in learning.
But he cautions against putting too much faith in the i-Pads’ role in the classroom.
"The question of whether or not technology itself contributes to what we would call a direct correlation or even a causal relationship with learning and achievement has yet been decided. It is still up in the air, as far we know, at this point, technology by itself does not enhance learning."
Kalyn Benoit says so far, the i-Pads appear to be an effective teaching tool.
"You can, basically, get on each student’s individual level. Students who need to work on, like, letter sound, letter recognition, they can do that while students who are ready to start reading – they can do that. So it individualizes the learning and it helps on each of their own levels."
Sallie Humble Elementary has roughly 25 i-Pads.
Monroe City Schools estimates the total cost of the program to be about thirty-five-thousand dollars.
Still, Principal David Claxton remains adamant that the computers represent a small portion of a teacher’s repertoire.
"We still need to count on our teacher to do the teaching. These are only tools to help the teacher and the children get and grasp the education they need."