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WORK/EDUCATION

metronews.ca Wednesday, April 11, 2012

From teacher to tablet: Gadgets find their place in the classroom My iPad ate my homework. The Bring your own Gadget movement is gaining speed in Ontario schools Ontario’s elementary school curriculum spells out that all Grade 3 students must learn about the similarities and differences between urban and rural communities, although it leaves it up to teachers to figure out the best way to impart that knowledge. As unconventional as it

Race for relevancy

“School boards have really struggled with how to keep up in terms of technology, it’s impossible financially to afford the level of computers that we need for students” Brian Woodland, Director of Communications for the Peel District School Board

might sound, some kids are getting a lesson by playing SimCity on an iPad. On a recent day at the HTS independent school in Richmond Hill,

Will kids be able to stay focused with a bevy of distractions in front of them? Peel District School Board Director of Communications Brian Woodland says teachers are already used to dealing with that challenge. istock

Ont., a small class of Grade 3 students continued their social studies learning by tapping and swiping at iPads, building a city from the ground up. Some of the eight- and nine-year-old kids were quietly engrossed at the task at hand, intently micromanaging their city as it grew and problems emerged, while others excitedly showed off their creations to nearby classmates. “I just lost 1,000 people, why did they move away?” “What’s a seaport? Oh, there’s a hot tub!” “They want a landfill, they’re going to get a landfill.” “I had an earthquake!” “What’s a residential tax?” Over the course of the year, the school has been experimenting with ways to integrate the iPad into classrooms

and use it as a learning tool. By September, teachers will be fully prepped on how to teach the whole curriculum with the help of tablets and computers. HTS isn’t the first school to OK the use of tablets in class and plenty more will be on board in time for the next school year. The Peel District School Board in Ontario, with 234 schools and almost 153,000 students, is encouraging students to BYOD — bring your own device, including smartphones, tablets and laptops — starting in September. “School boards have really struggled with how to keep up in terms of technology, it’s impossible financially to afford the level of computers that we need for students,”

said the school board’s director of communications Brian Woodland. “The Ontario government has now permanently reduced our funding for technology.... We heard from the system that we have to do things dif-

ferently.” While education activists have expressed concern that many students can’t afford pricey new gadgets, Woodland said that bringing a device would by no means be mandatory. The canadian press

Funding the future

Internet investment The Peel District School Board is investing $7 million from its reserve fund to implement wireless Internet access at all its schools and help supply equipment for students who don’t have it. Kids are already bring-

ing computers, phones and tablets to class, noted Brian Woodland, so it won’t be a radically different experience for teachers or students come September. People are always asking how kids will stay focused with a bevy of distractions in front of them but teachers are already used to dealing with that challenge, he added.

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