Technology infiltrates the classroom

Samuel Burke, Reporter

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What is the first thing that comes to mind when someone says “classroom?”

For many, it’s inside a slightly worn-down building with hard linoleum floors that echo throughout the entire school. It may smell like crayons, markers and Play-Doh, and throughout the room are scattered desks and chairs.

The desks open, and inside of each desk there are books, crayons and markers, and on the underside of the desk there’s graffiti that the children have written.

This image of a classroom isn’t the image that most children see today. Technology has become one with the classroom. According to a 2017 study by the University of Phoenix, 63% of the 1,001 K-12 teachers surveyed reported using technology in the classroom on a daily basis.

But technology didn’t just appear in the classrooms overnight. John Borgwardt, a former third grade teacher in the Verona Area School District, started his career on Jan. 24, 1977 and has seen the classroom evolve with the introduction of more and more technology. When he began teaching, his school didn’t even have a computer.

“Even in the office there was no computer,” Borgwardt said. “Our secretary, at one point, was running the school of over 1,000 students without the aid of a computer. How she ever did that, I don’t know.”

Eventually the secretary did get a computer, and so did the classrooms. Borgwardt said four classes would share one computer in the beginning. He said after sharing a computer between the multiple grade levels, each grade would have four computers.

Borgwardt added that classes would be broken into groups, where four students would work on the computer, while the rest of the class was doing a lesson. The group on the computers would then rotate off after 15 minutes and another group of students would rotate onto the computers.

“Math games was one of the things that showed up early that the kids would work on and you’d rotate them through,” he said. “There was a lot of juggling going on at that time with getting on to the computers.”

After a few years, the school transitioned from giving four computers to each grade level into putting the computers in a computer lab.

“Once a week, your class would go down for maybe 45 minutes for time on the computer to do something,” Borgwardt said. “And again, you can’t get too terribly involved in something when you’ve got such a small amount of time available to you.”

Before Borgwardt retired from teaching in 2012, his school had begun using a cart with 25 iPads on it to aid in teaching.

“You could roll it down into your classroom, and you could have the kids working on a project but they all don’t have to be doing the same thing at the same time,” Borgwardt said. “They can be in the same area of study, but they can work on different things, and they can go at their own pace.”

Jessica Rice, a first-grade teacher for the Verona Area School District, said she uses technology every day in her classroom to assist with everyday learning.

“We had a computer lab, and then we had iPad carts where we would share the iPads between the grade level,” Rice said. “Now we are one to one, so we have a cart in our classroom of 17. I have my own MacBook that links up to it; that’s how I do my attendance. All my work is based off the smart board and presenting that way.”

In terms of integrating technology into the classroom, Rice said learning something new is always a little challenging, but so far has been beneficial in making technology more accessible to everyone.

“I think as a teacher you’re kind of a lifelong learner,” she said. “So it’s really exciting to find new ways to utilize technology to reach everybody.”