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TechEd Technology in Education

New Class Requirements How Does Your Tech Affect You? Surfin’ Safely: the importance of tech security in your life

“It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exeeded our humanity.� -Albert Einstein

Table of Contents Chromebook Info


Letters from the Editors



More Chromebook Info


LASA Technology Use


AISD Schools with chromebooks


Technology in Schools: Benefits & Disadvantages

Passwords 101


A Guided to Protecting Yourself Online


Technology’s Limits


Will Technology Suffice?



Surfin’ Safely: the importance of tech security in your life


Classroom Tech


How Does Your Tech Affect You?


New Class Requirements

Letters from the

Editors Aiden Woodruff

Aiden Woodruff has been a freshman at LASA for 15 years. He is an avid programmer, amateur singer, and thespian for fun. So far, he’s done well on Cyberpatriot X, poorly on Cyberpatriot XI, and both tech and acting for ACP productions. He may know the most on this topic, but he neither did the best work nor picked the best topic: CS class reqs. Nobody in the group is totally sure why, but he never sits with them. It definitely doesn’t have to do with them being boring (except Anshul, Rebecca, and Amaru) or anything. He hopes you read it slowly and take all advice with a grain of salt. This statement is false.

Amaru Marsee Amaru Marsee is not very good with technology… she does not go home and code a computer like some of the other kids in her group. She didn’t choose this topic because it is something that she would be good at, or have previous knowledge about--she chose it because it is something that she was generally interested in. Unfortunately, she knew nothing about. Her feature article is about how technology negatively affects students. She chose this topic for her feature article because she thinks it is important to see from the positive, like most of her group, and the negative views on school technology.

6 / Fall / TechEd

Anshul Desai

Anshul is in his Freshman year at LASA High School and is currently in the ‘Technology in Education’ group for Ezine. He has always loved using photo editing/enhancing programs like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. His feature article is focused on the Chromebook usage in AISD classes and how students have access to these as of Fall, 2017. When taking technology into consideration, Anshul is very experienced and has been since a very young age. Both his parents are computer program developers so it’s in his blood. He is in the ‘Intro to Computer Science’ class right now and is starting to learn Python. This is just one of the many examples of the daily activities that students take part in that involves technology in education.

Nevin Hall

Nevin Hall is one of the editors of the TechEd magazine. He goes to the Liberal Arts and Sciences Academy, and is a Freshman. His article’s topic is about the presence of technology in education and why there are so many problems with the implementation of complicated programs. He got the inspiration for this article when he first learned about the SEL (Social Emotional Learning) movement, and why using technology for SEL was a inefficient idea. This interest morphed from that movement to general education, and how technology was both a pro and a con for educators.

Rebecca George Rebecca chose the topic “technology security” because it has always been an important part of her life, but she never knew much about it other than that you should have a password and not to reuse it. As such, she thought she might as well learn what turned out to be a lot of information and write her article at the same time. They chose the magazine topic “technology in education” because they were all interested in technology and relating it to education would make it more relevant to the anticipated audience.

TechEd / Fall / 7

8 / Fall / TechEd

Students Use of Laptops in School 72% of Students use a Chromebook

By: Anshul Desai

28% of Students do not use a Chromebook

Links: TechEd / Fall / 9

How technology is used at LASA by Aiden Woodruff How often do students use their school emails?

We asked students how often they use their school emails. The most recipients check it a moderate amount, compared with some who never check it. Different answer choices are shown in different colors, on the scale given.






5 Only School Email


Who has home internet?




Of the students interviewed, less than 10% do not have home Internet access. Internet access is central to learning how to use a computer, as well as making the most of a school-issued one.


Who has taken Computer Science related classes? None A few 32%

Many! 60%


10 / Fall / TechEd

Students who already have an interest in computers probably don’t need to take a basics course. But if less than 50% are, maybe it should be required.

How do students want to be reminded of assignments?


Over the years, technology has brought forth a multitude of ways to inform students. But which do they prefer?



Percentages are out of total students surveyed.


Electronically As a blog With static content

Reminded by Written on the board the teacher

Number of home computers





x 5+

Everyone needs experience. The more computers present in your household, the greater the chance you will know your way around one. 7%




In what format do students prefer assignments?


On paper Electronically Both ways




Sources: • Student Survey, conducted 2018-09-27 to 2018-10-15. • • TechEd / Fall / 11

12 / Fall / TechEd

A Guide To Protecting Yourself Online

By Rebecca George

An easy overview of some dos and donʼts of the internet

Only go places youʼre confortable PASSWORDS with being. Donʼt and change them if your security is click on sketchy breached links, ads, or emails. Donʼt e

e Secur Us

download things if you arenʼt sure what they are Dealing with

Unless youʼre an adult or have permission, avoid posting: - Your FULL NAME

- Your LOCATION Donʼt Reveal




- ADDRESSES (home, school, friends, etc) - PHONE numbers - SOCIAL SECURITY numbers - PASSWORDS - CREDIT CARD numbers

Try to use secure connections

- IGNORE IT: blocking or ignoring takes away the power and satisfaction given by your reaction - GET HELP: talk to counselors, parents or other trustworthy adults - REPORT IT: if it may be illegal, document and keep track of whatʼs happening and report it to a trusted adult or the police

PASSWORDS 101 By Rebecca George


A simple, 5-Step guide to having safe and secure passwords.

Make it as long as Youʼll Remember

2 3

ex: instead of “School123”, use a phrase like “FunAtSchool”

Use Special Characters and Numbers ex: instead of “FunAtSchool”, use “Fun@t5ch001”



Use Passphrases, Not Passwords

Store Passwords Somewhere Safe

use online password keepers or apps, or write them down on paper

Choose Obscure Security Questions

Straight foreward questions like birth place, motherʼs name, 1st carʼs color, etc. can be easily guessed or answered online, but openended questions that can be answered with an anecdote like, “My mom and I stopped for donuts when I won the game” are harder to guess. Sources:

Technology’s By: Nevin Hall

The school lacks money for technology. What do you do?

Have you hit the Tax Ceiling?

Yes No

Do you need the money?

Do you need the money?

Bond Issue Photo Credit: Pixabay

Do Nothing

Taxes, Taxes, Taxes Photo Credit: Pixabay

Photo Credit: Melbourne Chapter

Limits F The Education Act of 1965. States the ratio of funds that states and districts need to spend on technology.

S Technology TEKS Standards. Say What schools need to do in order to comply with Texas school technology standards




77 191


205 237 246

9 51 75


193 17 96

7 0 25


17 4 0 4




19 71 94



Legend: F - Federal S - State L - Local







239 123 69


216 71 39



19 71 94


11 82 85

0 49 71 6


0 49 71 6



#d84727 239 123 69 RGB

S TEA 2006 Long Term Technology Plan. Spells out how the TEA needs to use technology




216 71 39 11 82 85 0 67 82 15

- Federal Acts/Actions - State Acts/Actions

- Local Acts/Actions

L 2017 Bond Plan. Lays out the guidelines for AISD’s Technology Strategy.

0 67 82 15








4 42 43


94 177 191


205 237 246


182 91 17


189 51 75


193 17 96


51 7 0 25 Sources: CMYK


91 2 0 83

17 4 0 4

Devries, N - TEA ISTE-ED Standards USDED- Enhancing ED HEX

Will Technology Suffice By: Anshul Desai

In school, students take many things for granted as they go on with their days, year after year. Some of these things do not mean much to them, whereas others have a huge part in their daily activities. Bill Gates once said, “Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is the most important.” The whole invention and idea of technology, as well as integrating it with education, opened a whole new world of endless possibilities. Every student currently attending an Austin Independent School 18 / Fall / TechEd

Feedback District (AISD) high school either owns or had the option to own a school provided Chromebook, through the Everyone:1 program that started in the Fall of 2017. This program has provided countless opportunities for students to have aid on their assignments. In the past, when a student needed a computer to complete an assignment, they would have to stay after school and use an in-school laptop or desktop. Now, due to this initiative, Chromebooks can be taken home and used there.This example is just one of the many examples of how the school district takes initiative and provides for students.

Scott Smith, the Gateway to Technology teacher at Canyon Vista Middle School, teaches his class in a different way. Canyon Vista Middle School is in Round Rock ISD, so they do not have the same opportunity as students in AISD schools. Smith has computers in his class with Computer Aided Design (CAD) programs installed for students to use. With those, they create 3D models with ‘Autodesk Inventor’ software to

Picture of Scott Smith (Photo courtesy of Scott Smith.)

Dell Chromebook model 3189 (Photo courtesy of Pixabay.)

visualize their designs. These skills and experiences are especially important for class members wanting to go into engineering fields. “We use the computer all the time. We’re into robotics, so we use programming. We start off in the small versions of electronics and then we get into force and motion and. speed in pneumatics and all that kind of stuff,” said Smith. He discusses what the real definition of technology, saying, “I mean the original term

for technology was a man using the stone rock and the hammer and so anything after that, being able to use tools or anything like that technically was technology.” He says that anything learned that involved technology in any way, is very important and will be remembered for years to come. “Students… who go on to LASA right now are going to use hopefully some of the stuff they learned in my class to help

them out with the things that they’re doing and LASA,” said Smith. Anita Johnson, the Technology expert at Kealing Middle School, had an interesting take on students in her class utilizing technology. She talked about how technology has always been the mainstay of her career, mentioning how in the classroom it allows her to cater to students of many different skill levels.

TechEd / Fall / 19

Johnson is class technology includes school-issue desktop computers (64-bit Windows) with wired connections. In her coding and robotics classes, Python and Scratch are also provided for students to learn at many different levels. She also makes Freshman at Anderson High School, Aibo Feng (Photo sure to install anything courtesy of Anderson High School.) students might need for their class projects. teaching. When students are presenting to and Lastly Aibo Feng, teaching other students, Anderson High School being visually engaging freshman, gave a is important to ensure perspective on how information is retained. different schools in “There is also group work, the district enforce where cloud based storage the program. Feng, in Google Drive makes being a high school it easy to share a typed student, is included document to anyone else in in the EVERYONE:1 the group. Without Google initiative and currently Drive, sharing documents owns a school-provided would be highly inefficient. Chromebook. “There are Lastly, technology vital many activities in where to the implementation technology is a necessity,” of any STEM (Science said Feng. He specifically Technology Engineering notes the importance of and Mathematics) career. presentation software, In STEM classes we like Google Slides and utilize technology so we Microsoft’s Powerpoint, in can be fully prepared for 20 / Fall / TechEd

the future,” said Feng. This hints at his personal take on the crucial and important role technology plays in many, if not all, schools. He also explained how his Chromebook aids in his learning. “My laptop has helped me both in and out of class by giving me the opportunity to access 1.2 million terabytes of data online and has also provided me and many of my peers the ability to type instead of hand write so that it is much cleaner and more professional,” said Feng. (1.2 million terabytes is one estimate of the total size of internetconnected storage.) “I was first introduced to the integration of technology and education in my second grade class when we had COWs (computers on wheels) and they were small laptops that we could use to find information and do research on.” Feng’s early introduction to technology in a school environment readied him for the present in a way that some miss out

on, leading to a constant game of catch-up. Clearly, technology and the opportunities that come with it are crucial to not only students, but teachers as well. Without these devices, learning would be vastly different. However, there are still a number of issues plaguing administrators when thinking about technological implementation, a large and pervasive one is what information is essential for learning, and what information should be withheld from students.

MacBook Pro combined with education (Photo courtesy of Pixabay.)

MacBook Pro in action (Photo courtesy of Pixabay.)

TechEd / Fall / 21

Surfin’ Safely The importance of tech security in your life

By Rebecca George

A computer and orange coffee cup sit on a desk. (Courtesy of Pixabay.)


Over the years, society has become more and more reliant on technology. It is taken virtually everywhere — phones in our pockets, smart watches on our wrists, tablets and computers available everywhere — and most places in the U.S. have electrical outlets available in almost every room. While all this technology allows access almost any information at the press of a button, through social media, the internet and search engines, and profiles in apps or other platforms, people get the ability to easily access information, even if you don’t want them to get to it (i.e., hacking).

Cyber Attacks Cyber attacks have come flooding in during the past decade, “increasing almost fourfold between January 2016 and October 2017,” according to the website of Cisco, a technology conglomerate that sells things like networking hardware. A cyber attack is when someone with malicious intent breaches an information system to get to information that they’re not supposed to have. The most popular kind of cyber attack is phishing, which is when a hacker attempts to gain access to information through emails. These are usually

A smartwatch and phone. (Courtesy of Pixabay.)

22 / Fall / TechEd

emails sent from people pretending to be people or things that are trusted, like a bank or phone service company, and attempting to get information like passwords or credit card numbers. They can try to play tricks by getting people to follow a link that leads to a website that looks similar, but not identical to the official website of who they’re pretending to be, which is why paying attention to the Uniform Resource Locator (URL) is so important. Another popular cyber attack is a little thing called malware. Malware, a spookier way to say malicious software, includes things like spyware, ransomware and viruses. They can

do a range of harmful things, from blocking access to or disrupting components of a network, to rendering the system useless from acquiring information from the hard drive. One of the most well-known types of malware is ransomware. Often, ransomware gets onto your computer, encrypts it, then asks for money in exchange for it decryption. Viruses can get onto your computer, not only from clicking on the sketchy parts of the internet, but from thumb drives and other infected physical devices as well. Denial of service attacks (DDos) happen when a system is flooded by hackers which prevents anyone from using anything because the computer is too busy and full to process requests. Another kind of attack is a man-inthe-middle attack, when a hacker gets between two parties and takes information from the traffic between them. For example, they could get between a device and the Wi-Fi and process everything that goes inbetween.

Some examples of this would be if a hacker tried to take down something like Facebook or Gmail.

“for instance, a hacker is trying to bring down Facebook or Gmail,” - Sadaf Syed

To protect from this kind of attack, check to make sure everything is secure, for example looking for an HTTPS in the URL bar as opposed to an HTTP when entering passwords or sensitive information (The s stands for secure.) With all these different kinds of cyber attacks, there must be some way to defend against and prevent them, right? Most of what can be done is some form of being careful. Don’t click on sketchy emails, don’t click on those links in the sketchy emails, don’t install software when you’re unclear if it is safe or not, especially the pop-up windows, and notice weird fluctuations in network traffic (early stages of denial of service attack).

A person in a blue dress and hat lies down using a computer. (Courtesy of Pixabay.)

TechEd / Fall / 23

A computer, headphones, camera, phone, and mouse on a desk with a plant. (Courtesy of Pixabay.)

Passwords Another important measure to take for safety is to choose good password. Most websites have an attempt limit for entering incorrect passwords in a specific amount of time, but some do not. You can stay safe by creating the perfect recipe for your passwords. First off, do not use the same password for every single website, app and account. If someone gets the password to one of the accounts, they have the password to all the accounts. Next, change them when they get hacked, or every once in a while, just to be safe. Also, using a passphrase instead of a password can make it a whole lot safer and harder to guess. Along with this, make it as long as possible, just as long as it is rememberable.

24 / Fall / TechEd

To spice it up a little, add in some special characters and numbers. That password can go from “safe” to “s@f3” in a pinch. If you’re feeling up to it, add some extra, random characters at the end, or use two factor identification, which is when the account sends you a time sensitive code that you use along with the password to sign in.

Web Addresses Along with this, remember to look at the URL for the websites. When online, most websites will have a URL that looks something like this: specifying-which-page. Let’s take a look at the start. It starts out with the protocol. The two most common are HTTP and HTTPS. The “S” stands for secure, and even before the URL starts, if it has an https, there should be a little green or

gray lock and/or the word “Secure.” Clicking on them allows access to more information about how safe the connection is, and all of its certificates and cookies.

The https part of a web address. (Courtesy of Pixabay.)

SSL, one of two certificates that can be indicated by the “S” of HTTPS, ensures that the communications will arrive to the website without being viewed by others. Think of it as a lock attached to the information that the website can unlock when it appears. Even if someone gets to the information before the website, they don’t have the key, so the information is secure.

A thumbs up coming out of a phone. (Courtesy of Pixabay.)

Using the Internet When using the internet, there are some things that pop up sometimes that most people would rather not see. This is why we have tools like Safe Search and, for example, when you use your computer at school, certain websites, images and other things are blocked. AISD, for example uses a kind of proxy, which is the server in the middle that you tell a request, for example a message, it processes it, then it sends that message to the recipient, set up that filters everything. The computer filters what is seen and what is accessible by using things like Google to scan for keywords and phrases. Not only this, but Google also keeps a list of what kind of websites websites are.

While the internet can be used for many wonderful things, inappropriate content is not the only dark side. Cyberbullying is becoming a bigger problem every day, and thankfully there are laws in place to stop it and things humans can do to stand up against it. For example, Barbara Neill, a technology facilitator at Summitt Elementary School said, “I’ve talked to several kids that have talked about, ‘I quit playing my games because these people were mean to me.’” As a human, the best thing to do is to ignore it—don’t give them a reaction. Don’t retaliate after someone says something mean.

Another tool to use is reporting them. Many platforms have a reporting feature, and telling an adult that you trust, such as a parent, a teacher, a counselor or a friend is also very effective. These people can help deal with cyberbullying, and if it violates any laws, they can call someone. Technology is nearly an essential part of people’s lives nowadays, creating a whole slew of jobs, entire industries, and many great resources and opportunities, but just like anything else, it has its risks. It is almost impossible to eliminate all risk, but staying safe and making sure networks are secure are some of the best things people can do to protect themselves.

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How Does Tech Affect You? By: Amaru Marsee


Image is courtesy of pixabay 26 / Fall / TechEd 2/TechEd the semester and date 2/TechEd the semester and date


t’s your first time driving alone in your car, there is just a hint of nervousness behind your bright smile. You sing happily to your favorite song, but are careful to keep your eyes glued on the road. Suddenly, you are jolted forward and feel your head slam into the dashboard. You sit there stunned into silence. Your first wreck. In the past, signs littered the road telling you to “call a cab” and “designate a driver when you go out.” But things are changing, instead of seeing “drive sober or get pulled over” on the side of the road, you are more likely to see “your Facebook status can wait” or “NO TEXTING, NO TALKING, NO EXCEPTIONS.” Overuse of technology is becoming an issue in the new digital age. The rapid increase in phone use is due to the accessibility, a new condition called

teens and young adults. This condition is quite contradictory of itself. I’m sure you have all heard that having a phone glued to your hand all the time means that you spend less time actually talking to people, and most of us have felt a pang jealousy when our friends hang out without us. With this condition, you spend a lot of time on social media looking at your friends having fun and fear that you are missing out on all the experiences. What is contradictory is

“There are many negative effects of being engrossed in electronics. I definitely find myself more irritated and angry after watching tv or playing a video game. I also find myself getting less exercise and not wanting to get out of bed as much.” -Anna Bousman that studies show that the more time that you spend on your phone, the less time that you spend talking face to face with people.

FOMO, not enjoying hanging out with friends face to face as much as online, and a need to stimulate your brain. Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) might sound stupid at first, but it has developed into a serious issue with

Technology changes the way that we think down to the chemical level. It stimulates your brain much like snorting cocaine would. Studies have shown that technology triggers the same parts of your brain that substances do. It is used — much like alcohol — as a social lubricant and as an escape from boredom or reality. Smartphones, Apple watches, Alexa and other easily accessible devices are changing the amount of time that teens spend on technology.

Smartphones are the easiest to access because they are owned by a staggering 70 percent of the U.S. population. They give access to social media, addictive games and apps. Apple watches provide a constant stream of news, emails, texts and calls directly to your wrist. When you take your Apple watch off, Alexa, owned by a small part of the population, can respond to any of your commands from anywhere in your house.

Alexa, “Amazon’s virtual assistant,” is a device that looks much like a speaker and acts much like Apple’s “Siri.” Alexa does not require a sign in or a verification, like most technology does, which makes using it even more attractive to consumers. Unfortunately, there are many risks that come with the rapid increase in phones and other easily accessible devices. These issues include: Injuries due to not paying attention to one’s surroundings; brain damage; damage to vision; and not developing socially. Some people just don’t like socializing, but many are losing the ability to interact due to the amount of time that they spend staring at phone or playing a video game. Because children are growing up in an age where everyone texts, calls or Snapchats each other, they are losing the ability to interact with others and therefore are going into social withdrawal.

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Many accidents have happened due to people’s heads being stuck in the literal and figurative alternate reality that is their phone. Whether it’s texting while driving or looking at your phone while you cross the street, not paying attention to the things around you can cause serious injuries. But that is not the only harm your technology inflicts; the digitalitised scene of any of your devices ruins your vision.

I think that the technology I have now, just like my camera and phone storage and the modernization of how I can manage all my school things with Google apps is just something that I wouldn’t give up,” said Nieri-Dichrich. She is not the only one to stress the importance of modernization either. Kason Kelly, another AISD student, said he would not get a flip phone because he says that the smartphone has more abilities and utilities that are easily accessible.

Austin Independent school District (AISD) student Isabella Nieri-Dichrich says, “I’m almost always using my computer for school, but I’m on my phone collectively around 6-7 hours a day. Mostly social media and some just texting and calling. It’s a bad habit of mine, but I usually fall asleep with my phone literally in my hand and usually it’s playing music. I don’t really notice it, but I am actually losing track of time and don’t go to bed until around 1 or so.”

Elizabeth Switick, a teacher at the Austin-based charter school Austin Discovery School (ADS) said, “I think it is very important in the 21st century to teach elementary students to use the computer and to conduct internet research. It is also important at the same time to teach them the ethics of being online, to make them aware of their digital footprint, and to teach them how to evaluate the vast amounts of information they will find online. At ADS we use a vetted custom Google search engine for our online work, so that my students are not being exposed to all aspects of the internet world.”

She’s not the only one. Most youth nowadays stay up on their phones, computers and game consoles. Even

“I do not fear computers. I fear the lack of them.” -Isaac Asimov

though Nieri-Dichrich isn’t proud of being on her phone for immense amounts of time, she says she would not give her phone up. “You know, I bet having a flip phone would eliminate a lot of time wasted being on my phone, but no, I wouldn’t get a flip phone.

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Even with the custom search engine, Switick says, “In terms of other electronics, I do not personally think that children under five need to be exposed to cell phones, iPads or other electronics. There is emerging research into how exposure to electronics is physically shaping children’s brains and affecting their attention skills. We generally do not have students younger than first or second grade using computers at ADS.”

For the future, students should try spend less time on their phones and computers. This could mean just going for a hike once a week or going swimming with friends. Either way, it is good to take a break from the screens every once in a while.

“I think that having social media and just a smart phone in general these days gives more room for cyber bullying and things like that and how our emotional comprehension has been hindered by the use of technology. In instance it seems bad, and technology does have those bad sides but I also think that it gives humans just many benefits. Education tools, photography, and scientific innovations are just some of what comes with modern technology.” -Isabella Nieri-Dichrich

Image to the left is courtesy of pixabay

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” – Arthur C. Clarke

This photo shows a boy using some of the newly available technology. This shows some of the changes and possibilities in technology (courtesy of pixabay). TechEd / Fall / 29

Classroom Tech The Precarious State of Educational Technology

By: Nevin Hall

Seal of the US Department of Education. (Photo Credit: US Department of Education)

eye. This difference — the internet.

Classrooms are the battleground of the technological crusade, and they are absolutely key. (Photo Credit: Pixabay) echnology is absolutely changing the world. From banking, to airplanes. From music, to coffee machines. Technology, and more specifically, the internet, is changing everything up, like a massive game of Chutes and Ladders. What used to be paper, now there is Information Technology (IT). Even in the stodgiest places, government, when even the most minute change is slow to come by, things are changing, and never is there more change, than in schools. What schools are now may be completely different than what meets the

30 / Fall / TechEd

The internet and technology change so quickly it feels like one cannot even keep up. The speed of change can make teaching radically different than more experienced teachers expect. Leigh Northcutt-Benson, the director of the Fulmore Middle School International Studies and Humanities magnet program, is a commentator on the subject saying,“The problem with technology as as soon as everyone become comfortable and masters one mode, it changes”. This rate of change in an oftentimes rather stagnant area, education, can make it difficult to keep up, and can make unveiling new internet based programs difficult. “I believe that AISD has a license for BLEND for five years. We are in the second year, and are not yet at full implementation yet,” Northcutt said. But, as Northcutt notes, “technology is not a panacea for learning.” The

rate of change that technology is integrated into schools can be both a blessing and a curse for both teachers and students. This continued change at the speed of a locomotive can harm educators, as they attempt to figure out how to best teach their wards, while integrating the massive push for technology that Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs) around the country want. Since the foundation of basic public school systems, schools have been the first institutions to use new technologies, Such as paper, pencil, slate, the slide rule, books and many other important inventions. The difference between those items and the internet? They don’t try to be a teacher, while the internet, does. Administrators have expressed concern about the ability of the internet to

Code is a part of all technology, and is now being factored even more into schools. (Photo Credit: Pixabay)

However, even in the midst of these obstacles, technology can also be the great equalizer, and provide some experiences and abilities that schools on their own, cannot. Tech-

Not only does technology sometimes take the place of a real and inspiring teacher, but it can also exacerbate socioeconomic divides between students. Northcutt says, “There is a horrible technological divide and there are families with no computer at home, and for them it can become a natural barrier.” Socioeconomic divides are what make public school great. Public school should be the place at which those things are moot, where any child, rich or poor, should be able to succeed if they put in enough work.

nologies have many benefits inside the classroom, such as “communication and problem-solving,” according to Miguel Guhlin, the Director of Professional Development at the Texas Computer Education Association. “The way kids use technology as kids will determine their success down the road and how they use it as adults,” Guhlin says, and to that Northcutt agrees. “It would be great if teachers were using BLEND, the organizing program for classrooms,

While these disadvantages are noticed, educators cannot get too far away from the allure that the internet can bring. One of the best ones is the ability to be able to see and adapt what others create into something better. Erin Bown-Anderson, the director of technology integration for (AISD), says that “In essence, technology is used to assist in building a positive classroom culture, where students’ interests, identity, and agency are used to drive a personalized pathway.” Technology, while having its limitations, no doubt is able to make classrooms more accepting, teachers more effective, and students feel more like school is tailored to them, not the other way around.


teach, and the usage of the internet by teachers to teach. “Technology cannot inspire students like a good teacher can, but in the hands of a very good, and creative teacher, technology can be used very creatively,” Northcutt said. Teachers can communicate to other classrooms, streamline grading and can be used to help students by providing all of their classwork to wherever they may be. However, all of these benefits can come at a cost.

“Technology cannot inspire students like a good teacher can, but in the hands of a very good, and creative teacher, technology can be used very creativly” — Leigh Northcutt-Benson

to its full potential,” Northcutt says ”Because that would make it a lot easier for students and families to access make up work and other important items.”

After all of that, however, there is just one last hurdle. The funding for usage of the internet is at new lows. Funding for all school districts is tight, and the technology department is often the quickest to get cut. Northcutt says,“The State of Texas is not fully funding public schools like it should, and we should fix that problem.”

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The benefits of funding are well established. Guhlin says that, “Lots of areas could benefit from increased funding,” and that technology funding correlates to “real district success.” Bown-Anderson says that we should “absolutely increase funding to increase access for all students,” but that, “throwing money at the problem is not the answer in and of itself.” The question that naturally occurs is that, ”With all of these benefits, why don’t districts spend enough money, or receive enough money, for technology?.” The answer: a system called Robin Hood. The Robin Hood system is a system for re-allocating funds from higher property tax areas, to lower property tax areas. The State of Texas funds its schools from property taxes, and this system is increasingly shifting over to local funding, instead of state and federal monies. According to the “Texas Tribune”, the local share of

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“The local share of school funding has risen to fifty-five point five percent, while the federal share is only nine point five percent” — Texas Tribune

Motherboards are the key component to all technology, and educational technology is no different. (Photo Credit: Pixabay)

school funding has risen to fifty-five point five percent, while the federal share is only nine point five percent federal. And that doesn’t even mention the state, whose overall funding for schools dropped six point three percent when you factor in inflation. This is a critical error, which needs to be fixed. With the internet, there are many paradoxes that can be seen, thought about and argued over. But for school districts, the choice is clear. While technology has its downsides, the upsides far outweigh the downsides in this case. Districts should make the decision to shift further over into the technological world that surrounds their wards. And that government that surrounds those districts needs to confirm that they will continue to fund and increase funding for schools, so that obtaining technology for all will no longer be a thing of the future, but a thing of the present.


The TEA is the regulatory agency for all of the school’s and curriculum in the state of Texas. (Photo Credit: TEA, 2018)

The personal computer is the most used piece of technology in education, surpassing even the omnipresent projector. (Photo Credit: Pixabay)

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Knew Computer Basics? Image used royalty free, courtesy of Pexels.

Maybe a new class could help other students learn them even faster. 34 / Fall / TechEd

By Aiden Woodruff

ost people can’t go a day without using a computer. But with the Austin Independent School District’s new EVERYONE:1 initiative, all high school students are now provided with one. This, coupled with many teachers’ desire to port classes to the new, computerized age, means it’ll be even harder to stay off the screens. But with the advent of Chromebooks for all, do we need to amp up our computer education and internet skills? An initial fear of students, and rightly so, might be the implementation of a mostly useless or unneeded semester class. While such a class might at first seem like the best idea to teachers — it covers the topics students need, as well as providing an easy “A,” and likely with little added homework burden — but the thought of having to take it is not a favorable one for most. Some might even wonder at what a class like that would teach.

“Students today do not know how to research a topic in depth, they are consumers of a single point of view.” -Craig Levy A class teaching basic computer skills might not look like you might expect. As Craig Levy, Ph. D. and Technology & Curriculum Specialist at AISD said, basic computer skills are using technology for creation. When teachers force students to use computers in the narrow way the teachers are used to, they might cut off the possibility of children learning even more. Early exposure is also important;

Reagan HS Career Launch Students spend the day at Dell learning about Data Analysis and Cybersecurity. (Photo courtesy of Craig Levy)

children exposed to technology from a younger age tend to be more confident with using it in school. Another important skill Levy notes is, “identification of fake or misleading information.” Technology today is coupled with information distribution in a way some young children don’t understand — they think it’s just for games — but most of what technology enables is communication. For many students, social media is simply a given. Meanwhile, not everyone has a good understanding of what are accurate sources of information. The ease that comes with spreading misinformation can also leave children perpetuating false statements, often without their knowledge. “Students today do not know how to research a topic in depth, they are consumers of a single point of view,” Levy said. With the increasing number of

targeted advertisement campaigns, it can be hard to pick out a good source, and the speed of information consumption makes it unlikely for most people to look for other sources to back the story up. However, many students merely need technology to accomplish in-class activities and homework. In many situations, that homework is creating presentations, writing papers, or researching topics. But maybe that isn’t what children should use technology for. Levy says technology should be used for creation, which is certainly at odds with what most classes ask for. “Students today need to become makers more than ever,” Levy says. “They need to create new ideas, new products, new approaches to age old problems whether it is with code, or recycling. They need to embrace failure as steppingstone to success and not the end of problem solving.”

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Bowie HS incorporating hummingbirds into their Robotics program. (Photo courtesy of Craig Levy)

“You’ve got quite a mix of interests in embracing the new tools.” -Anita Johnson

The majority of classes in this district using technology for education are using a program called BLEND. If you’re a student or teacher at an AISD school, you’ve certainly seen it. If you’re in college, it’s identical to a different program called Canvas. Each class has a page, and it’s supposedly easy to add others, ranging from “Assignments” and “Discussions” to “Grades” and class “Announcements.” If a teacher already has a class website they like, the BLEND page can even just serve as a redirect page. But not all teachers want to have online classes. Middle school computer science teacher Anita Johnson says at her school it’s 50/50. “You’ve got quite a mix of interests in embracing the new tools.”

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“Spoon feeding in the long run teaches us nothing but the shape of the spoon.” -E.M. Forster

Providing these new tools for everyone could be hard, if not for AISD’s new program, EVERYONE:1. The program is an initiative to provide every high school student with a Chromebook, which Johnson thinks is absolutely necessary. She presents the same question many middle schools share: “Why invest in moving your whole curriculum to BLEND when your students can’t get to it?” If a semester class is added, would students be motivated to pay attention? Just the possibility of an easy A isn’t enough for some students. And, as Johnson says, “It sounds like a waste of time.” Instead of a long class, maybe something shorter and more laserfocused is in order. Johnson says, “I think a class, certainly not a semester class, maybe a one or two hour thing might be appropriate. Just, more about safekeeping, not spilling liquids.” She also says that most students are motivated to learn how to use their computer by just the fact that they have to use it. That motivation certainly translates into an ability to perform. “I think everybody would know what to do,” she says. “I don’t think they would necessarily do it well.” And when it comes to the difference between a student that can use technology well and one who can’t, it has nothing to do with intelligence, or lack thereof.

It’s all an issue of confidence. Students that don’t have a certain measure of confidence are more likely to suffer in silence. Johnson says, “They’re afraid they’ll do it wrong, or that kind of thing. You want to figure out how to avoid that.” For some teachers, technology can actually work to help that issue. When you have students at many different levels, providing different content for many levels is incredibly helpful. And when everybody is doing something that they’re able to do, and doing it at a better pace, they’re more likely to be comfortable with new material. So is creating a new class really the best idea? The truth is, it’s probably less about making a new class about using technology, and more about integrating technology more into all of our classes. Instead of telling children how to use, for example, Google Docs in a class dedicated to that, have students use it in English and ensure the teacher knows how to help. If creativity is a part of all classes and technology is the easiest platform to create, its use, and correct use, will naturally spread. The focus should not be adding new classes, but improving existing ones to accomplish what we want.

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Credits Classroom Tech

Leigh Northcutt-Benson, Magnet Director at Fulmore Middle School, AISD Michael Guhlin, Director of Professional Developement at TCEA Erin Bown-Anderson, Director of Technology Integration at AISD

How Does Your Tech Affect You?

Elizabeth Switick, Librarian and Technology Director at Austin Discovery School Isabella Nieri-Dichrich, Student at Ann Richards School for Young Women’s Leaders, AISD Anna Bausma, Student at McCallum High School, AISD

Surfin’ Safety

Jon Hurley Network Systems Manager at AISD Dave Alley Network Analysis IV at AISD Daniel Olivas Network Analysis III at AISD Sadaf Syed, Software Engineer at Cisco Barbara Neill, Campus Technology Facilitator at Summitt Elementary, AISD

Knew Computer Basics?

Craig Levy, Ph. D. and Technology & Curriculum Specialist at AISD Anita Johnson, Computer Science teacher at Kealing Middle School, AISD

Will Technology Suffice?

Scott Smith, Gateway to Technology teacher at Canyon Vista Middle School, AISD Aibo Feng, Student at Anderson High School, AISD Anita Johnson, Technology expert and coding teacher at Kealing Middle School, AISD

Bye Bye.


A technology magazine on the benefits and disadvantages of technology in schools.


A technology magazine on the benefits and disadvantages of technology in schools.