School District Tosses Apple

tabletS-in-schoolby Rachel Sandstrom

Good news, everyone! It seems that the Corvallis School District has decided that the Internet is not just a trend, and that it can be a useful tool for learning. Tablets are here to stay! Also, it’s tablets now, and not an exclusive contract with Apple—iPads are out, tablets are in. Embracing tablet and wi-fi technology allows the Corvallis School District to adapt to the ever-changing curricular needs of both students and teachers.

iPads were introduced to the Corvallis School District in 2013, first at the middle school level. This program experienced mostly success, and because of mostly positive reports from both students and teachers, the district has decided to keep them, with active plans to expand the program to include all students, at all schools. The school district supports technology in the classroom and believes that utilizing tablets, mobile technology, and the Internet will support better, faster, and more accessible learning.

The tablets will provide opportunities to fulfill student- and teacher-specific needs, and make it easier to assess and fill education gaps. Students will learn at their own speed, without any fear of embarrassment. It could also help to shut up the know-it-alls in the class, but that’s a whole different issue.

Kevin Bogatin, assistant superintendent, stated that the next step to expanding the program involves infrastructure. They are looking to expand wi-fi in all the schools so that by January 2016 they will be 100% wi-fi enabled. As they expand the program, Bogatin and district officials are concerned with safety. Bogatin referred specifically to Internet safety and security. They have all the usual restrictions and firewalls in place, but the coolest thing they are doing to promote safety and security is adding digital citizenship classes to the curriculum. These classes cover cyberbullying, how to research safely (read: effective, non-porny search terms), and what it means to communicate digitally. I can’t help but think of how much better certain aspects of life on the Internet (comment sections) could be if we all had those classes before the Internet was a “thing.”

Imagine how much more pleasant life will be in a few years after more schools adopt digital citizenship classes. Think of all the coherent discussions that will occur online, even in comment sections, instead of the miscellany that obscures any opportunity for intelligent conversation. There may never be any confusion over “ethics in gaming journalism” again! It’s a bright, shiny future, but not everyone is sold on it.

Jasmin Woodside, a local mother and civil engineer, is a little hesitant about all the wi-fi. This technology and the radiation in wireless devices are real issues that aren’t discussed at length. Her main concern is safety,  and making sure that the kids are kept safe. Safety for Woodside means precautions and protections against wi-fi and radiation exposure, because not all risks are known. She cited research published in Forbes that urges parents and educators to exercise caution when exposing kids to technology. Kids are more susceptible to the potentially harmful effects of technology in classrooms. She urged the school district to “examine safety before they expand the program.” She’s not a crazy, angry mom, but one of many concerned parents who simply want to be sure that the students are safe, and receiving the best education possible.