Technology transforms learning

CRESCO, Iowa – As more schools migrate to a one-to-one ratio of students to computers or tablets, the debate continues as to whether it actually improves student learning. One local school district is again handing out portable technology after a successful first year.

“It’s crazy the amount of stuff you can do. It opens up a lot of new classes that are fun and, challenging and enjoyable. Classes that we didn’t have before,” says Howard-Winneshiek sophomore, Isaiah Passmore.

The Howard-Winneshiek School District is handing out laptops to each student for the second year in a row.

“Every student in Howard-Winn, K-12,  was issued a device last year, and I will tell you we stepped through the looking glass,” says Superintendent, John Carver.

He says they have made major strides in student performance in that short amount of time.

“We took our Iowa Tests of Basic Skills and going into last year, we were a school that had been identified as a district in need of assistance. We’ve moved off that list this year,” says Carver.

He also says their ACT scores were just as impressive, scoring above the national average. While national debate continues as to whether students learn better with screens or paper, he says, “Students in this district are a leading example that the technology pays off.”

“I used to always like paper, but now I prefer going on the computer because you can have five tabs open at the same time looking at different stuff. You can scroll through quicker, it’s just so much more convenient for the student,” says Passmore.

His superintendent couldn’t be more impressed.

“At the close of last year, the things the kids were able to do was amazing. I’ve never seen things like that before. From fourth-graders learning how to code and program robots, to seventh and eighth graders on 3-D printers,” says Carver.

While more schools are doing this, he says it’s only a matter of time before everyone jumps on board.

While this technology appears to be a good thing, he says it depends what kind of broadband connection schools are able to get. The poor signal in various schools can be somewhat limiting. Establishing a strong broadband signal across Iowa is a top priority of Governor Branstad’s, which failed to pass last legislative session. However, Carver is holding out hope that something gets done soon.

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