Worksheets - without the sheets! Technology is becoming a major force in the world of education. With study tools such as Kahoot! , Quizziz, and Gimkit along with digital classrooms like Mathspace , and Canvas, the traditional learning style of pen and paper is slowly being replaced by a more wireless environment.
As a student at Mineola High School, I have had an abundance of experience with a digital learning space, as Mineola won last year’s “Follett Challenge,” a contest that rewards the most innovative of school districts. How does all of this technology affect the learning experience? Well, in my three years in the high school, I have learned that technology integrated with learning makes for a much more efficient and dynamic experience.
To start, I am enrolled in a computer graphics class which has truly taught me a lot about technology in schools. The sheer amount in the room in which the class is taught (the Mac lab), is more than some entire schools. 15 Mac computers, a heat press to print graphics onto t-shirts (also known as dye- sublimation), a heat press to print graphics onto mugs and water bottles, a green screen for the newspapers bi-weekly video episodes, and three 3D printers are just some of the technological marvels found in THAT room. The Mac Lab is often buzzing with student activity, but it is mostly used for classes such as Computer Graphics, Photography, Digital Production, and even an entrepreneurial club that runs our school store. All of these resources are available to every student, and along with teaching students about design and entrepreneurship skills, they allow students to create and learn in a way that most students in other schools will not get to experience.
Ms. Katie Sheehan, who is an integral part of Mineola High School’s IT department and teaches multiple technology-based classes says, “From day to day, my job is never the same. It allows me to continuously learn every day. I believe that technology levels the playing field for our students, and that all students have equal access to info.”
Beyond the technology based-classes, almost every class in Mineola integrates some form of technology into learning. Instead of being in math class studying with pen and paper, I can be competing with my friends to answer questions on a Kahoot! In Spanish, we can practice speaking on FlipGrid, which allows teacher and student critique all on our district-distributed iPads. With these programs and more, I see many of my peers who may not be as interested in whatever subject, begin to engage and even want to practice. Sophomore Paola Vicini says, “It gives you a lot more access to different methods of learning and gives you more resources.” Working environments have been revolutionized, as people can keep all of their work in one place without having to worry about it being ripped or lost. Sophomore Nicole Chan comments, “It's easier to keep resources and work organized and not lost,” and 8th grader Dylan Boutin adds, “I don’t have to have a bunch of paper, and everything is easy to carry around.”
There are those who say that giving students iPads during class can be distracting. While there is certainly merit to this statement, Mineola uses its own private “App Store” that only allows students to download district-mandated apps. This has blocked students from being able to download games or apps that may pose a disruption to their learning experience.
All in all, there are so many benefits to integrating technology in school, ranging from students learning new skills they may not usually be learning in school to making regular school work easier and more enjoyable. Many of my friends and I are grateful to be in such a tech-forward district, and if you go to a technology friendly school, I hope you are too.