Let’s decrease technology gap

As a member of the ISD 728 School Board I voted yes to present two levy questions to voters this Nov. 6. The first question requests a renewal of an expiring 10-year levy. The second question addresses a new 10-year levy. Voters deserve to know how their taxes will be invested in ISD 728, so I am addressing our second question, technology in the classroom.

I recently watched an eye-opening video that describes how our world is rapidly changing. As it relates to technology, these two points jumped out at me:

We are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist, using technologies that haven’t been invented, in order to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet.

The amount of new technical information is doubling every two years. For many students this means that half of what they learn in their first year of study will be outdated by their third year.

With these thoughts in mind, ISD 728 must invest in technology that directly impacts the classroom. Yet, to do so voters will have to pass not only Question 2, but also Question 1. The reason for this linkage is without continued funding from our existing levy we cannot invest in new technology.

So, why do we need technology in our classrooms?

We must be positioned for present and future technologies. We need to implement new tools such as Cloud computing, which is a simplified pathway for extended learning that provides anywhere, anytime and any device capabilities. We must also create online collaborative environments for our students and educators; in effect a virtual community of diverse learners.

We have to increase the amount and type of learning tools for all students and educators. We must integrate affordable tablet computing and or mobiles that allow students to engage in interactive learning that prepares them for tomorrow’s technology. For our educators, we need sound amplification systems in every classroom; research shows by using this technology students are more attentive, participative and comprehend and concentrate better.

We need to fully integrate our online learning systems district wide. With a fully integrated system, all of our students will be able to access textbooks, research, collaborate, submit assignments and yes even take quizzes. All of our students need to be afforded the opportunity for expanded online course choices, such as foreign languages. With a fully integrated online system, we will be able to provide more credited “24/7” classes.

We are obligated to decrease the technology gap between our schools and those in the metro districts. We read about school districts issuing every student an iPad or using proven methods such as Learning Analytics for teachers. Is it okay for our community to accept that students in surrounding districts and not ours have the latest educational technology for their use?

I urge all of our voters to become educated on how and why technology needs to be expanded in our classrooms. If you would like to have a speaker, call Director of Community Engagement Charlie Blesener at 763-241-3522. And lastly, please vote Tuesday, Nov. 6. — Janelle Henry, Albertville