St. Johns Public Schools is integrating technology into the classroom

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By Meghan Callan
Clinton County Chatter Staff Reporter

ST. JOHNS — Technology is transforming the way teaching and learning is taking place in the educational system of St. Johns Public Schools.

According to Curriculum Coordinator of St.Johns Public Schools Jason Gnegy, currently within the school system there are different forms of student devices and different levels of quantity based on those levels.

“At our high school we have Dell laptops mixed with Chromebooks. Also at the high school we have full class sets of student devices in all core classes and in some non-core areas,” said Gnegy.

According to Gnegy they also have a mix of Dell laptops, iPad tablets, and Chromebook computers for the middle school.

The elementary level is also growing through advancement in technology use.

“At the elementary level we have Dell laptops. At both the middle school and the elementary level we have about a ratio of two students for every one device,” said Gnegy.  

St. Johns resident Ashley Champlain finds this information shocking.

“I have a daughter who just entered the fourth grade here in St. Johns at Riley Elementary School. It amazes me how much she knows how to do on a laptop or even when she plays with my iPhone,” said Champlain.

Champlain does have some concerns regarding this exposure to her daughter at such a young age.

“When I was her age none of these tablets or desk-tops even existed, it’s insane how fast this technology is advancing and it scares me,” he said. “I guess my concern would be I would hate for her to get caught up in technology as she gets older.”

“I don’t want her to forget how to be present with her surroundings and miss out on just being a kid without all the gadgets,” said Champlain.

However, this technology movement is nowhere near slowing down.

According to the superintendent of schools for St. Johns, Dedrick Martin, the district is slowly working towards building the amount of devices they can provide for the students.

On Oct. 12, 2015 the St. Johns Board of Education projected a $135,850 budget in their long range financial plan to go towards technology advancements for St. Johns Public Schools during the 2015-2016 school year.

According to the board these advancements would include upgraded replacements of student laptops, Think Pads and staff desktops. In addition, new digital video software would be added to certain devices in all the schools.

“As a district we are slowly working towards getting enough student devices so that every student will have a device to use while in school,” said Gnegy.

However, according to Gnegy the St.Johns school system is not necessarily moving towards a 1:1 environment in which students have a dedicated device that is issued to them and they can take home.

“We may evolve to this model in the future but it is not part of our plan at this time,” said Gnegy.

Gnegy believes this new form of learning is a positive improvement to the traditional by the book learning method.

“As a district we are working with our teachers on “blending” their instruction through the use of technology.  We have seen some success in how teachers are utilizing the devices,” said Gnegy.

According to Gnegy with effective use, students can receive feedback in a timely fashion as well as teachers can provide more individualized and specific feedback to their students.  

However, Gnegy believes there will always be complications regarding the use of technology in the classroom.

“Of course with using technology there are always concerns about student misuse of technology. Teachers need to guide students on proper use of technology,” said Gnegy.

Gnegy believes the solution is seeing technology as a tool similar to a textbook yet more advanced.

“We all need to understand that with the Internet there are so many more resources and information that we can bring into our schools and to our students beyond the traditional textbook,” said Gnegy.

According to Gnegy implementing this new style of learning into the St. Johns school system is a gradual process, yet will be beneficial to the students of St. Johns Public Schools as a whole.

“I believe that in time this technology will transform the way teaching and learning will take place at all levels. If we limit ourselves to only using textbooks then we are limiting our students ability to learn more about a topic or subject,” said Gnegy.

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