Deck: Breakthroughs in technology are revolutionizing the classroom
Story: David Moore
When students return to school in Marion County later this month, they will be returning to ever-evolving, constantly changing landscape known as the classroom.
With technology changing at such a fast pace these days, school systems throughout the nation and world are working to enhance and improve the classroom experience for teachers and students and make the best use of the latest advancements. In Florida, the Department of Education just this year created a special task force to address this technological transformation and to help the state maintain its status as a leader in digital learning.
Here in Marion County, technological advancements continue in the local school system. Just last year a new electronic desktop was introduced for all students, giving them free access to popular applications like Power Point, Microsoft Word and Outlook. It also gives them access to CCC Video on Demand, Live@edu email, SkyDrive and Destiny, the district’s online library catalogue. Through this desktop or portal, students can access their latest grades, FCAT history, SAT scores, class rank and more. That’s all in one place, just clicks away.
Marion County was one of the first districts in Florida to provide this electronic desktop, attracting attention from all over the state last year. It was rolled out in phases last fall with high school students first, then middle school and then elementary students. Students at Lake Weir High were actually the first high school students in the nation to use Live@edu, giving them a cloud account and storage back in 2009.
But students and teachers aren’t the only ones benefiting from technology. Parents actually had their own online portal prior to students. The school district rolled out the online parent portal two years ago, giving parents immediate access to their children’s latest grades, test scores, school assignments, discipline and attendance records.
Parents no longer have to wait on progress reports to find out how their child is doing in Algebra or history. They can know almost as soon as their child knows. And they can also take care of school lunch accounts, brush up on school policies and be alerted to any emergencies that are going on at their child’s school.
And usage continues to grow, with 32 percent of parents currently taking advantage of this free technology that is also offered in Spanish.
This coming school year more students can expect to take the computerized version of the mandatory FCAT, with almost all FCAT testing and end of year testing going digital by 2014-15 school year. More grade levels and testing categories are going digital each year.
6 Great apps for students
SAT help, chemistry formulas, language translation, even frog dissection? Yes, there’s an app for that. Check out these six apps for today’s tech-savvy students:
SATladder app transforms study preparation into a fun game! As with the real SAT, you have to answer correctly and quickly in order to win. You can play solo or compete against friends or others users of the app to see how far you’ll go up the ladder. Users go through five rounds of questions drawn from three sections of the SAT - critical reading, mathematics or writing. Play as little or as long as you like. ($2.99 for iPad and iPhones)
WolframAlpha app is the app you need to help find the answers to all sorts of mind-boggling questions. Just feed the app with phrases, dates or words and this app will dig up all the information related to the query. Questions can also be asked to gain quick answers on a variety of topics. ($1.99 for iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch)
Taking German II this fall? Google Translate app allows you to instantly translate text and listen to translations of 60 languages. A cool feature of this app allows speech-to-speech translations for live conversations, which could help you, strike up conversation with the foreign exchange student. (Free for Android)
Students will love the Advanced English and Thesaurus app, a two-in-one bundle with 1.4 million words that delivers both utilities in a single application. That way you won’t need to install separate dictionary and thesaurus apps. It also offers playback pronunciations for selected words. (Free for Android)
With the Formulas Lite app, students can get help with math, physics, and chemistry formulas, making this the ultimate high school app. It has a Scientific Calculator and translator and offers interesting facts to enhance your knowledge about formulas. This app offers a total package for understanding and remembering formula concepts, as well as the Periodic Table of Elements. (Free for Android)
The Frog Dissect app lets users - you guessed it - dissect a frog using pins, scissors, scalpel, forceps and marker, just like they do in biology lab. There are step-by-step instructions, detailed labeling, and great 3D views of the organs that offer students a real feel to this virtual dissection without the formaldehyde and without the lab mess. ($3.99 for iPad)