Gone are days of chalk and chalkboards

Seniors Chelsie Brann and Greg Barker work on their submersible robot during class at Kingston High School. The students must be able to design and build a robotic device for competition.  - Brad Camp/Staff Photo
Seniors Chelsie Brann and Greg Barker work on their submersible robot during class at Kingston High School. The students must be able to design and build a robotic device for competition.
— image credit: Brad Camp/Staff Photo

t NKSD teachers adapt

as technology changes the

face of education.

As the tidal wave of technology crashes upon the 21st century, students and educators are swept away in the current.

The rapidly evolving technological beast demands a new way of approaching education, as lecturing or reading text books to gather information is as slow as the Morse Code. Whereas a plethora of information on the Internet is accessed at the click of a mouse.

North Kitsap School District educators grapple with learning the new technology in order to effectively teach their tech-savvy students.

The technological devices of cell phones and the Internet demand safety awareness and teaching the proper ways to use them.

Despair not, as NKSD educators are taming the beast and using it as a learning device.

“What is really important is that we come to see the tools of technology are truly tools for learning,” said Gene Medina, NKSD superintendent. “Technology is really a resource for us that we can use to learn with. It’s just another way of accessing information at high speed.”

Medina is not alone in his thinking.

NKSD has five strategic goals that will “provide ongoing technology-related guidance and direction for the district.” Among the goals: Make policy and recommendations which will expand access to and increase student understanding of internet uses, train administrators in the instructional use of technology and establish strategies to involve students in the design, implementation and maintenance of the digital learning environment.

Medina said the aim is to implement the strategies for the 2008-09 school year.

And both North Kitsap and Kingston high school principals are already on board, embracing technology in the classroom and understanding the impact it has on district students.

North Kitsap Principal Kathy Prasch knows today’s students can learn from “almost any computer.” Which is why she said teachers must add more value to the classroom.

“Kids are still polite and still willing to listen, but I think they are much more aware of relevancy today and if it doesn’t apply to their life they will be texting. It’s what they do when they’re bored,” Prasch said. “It’s up to us to make it relevant and meaningful. Teachers can no longer stand in front of the classroom and lecture. We need to make it more personal and connect with the kids.”

Prasch openly admits NK students know how to use technology she’s never heard of. She said students have always known more than educators in any given area. And being able to admit that becomes increasingly important under the spotlight of technology, as she said educators who allow their students to play a guiding role in the classroom will benefit.

“We find teachers who rely more on the kids get more out of the whole class,” Prasch said. “The goal is getting everybody up to speed.”

She even said NK educators are considering creating lesson plans that utilize cell phones and should be teaching cell phone etiquette.

At KHS Principal Christy Cole said teachers and students actively use the Internet for research. KHS offers a digital tools class that informs students how to use technological resources, software programs and web design. The high school is wireless and home to several computers on wheels. Once NK’s remodel is finished its buildings will be wireless.

“Teachers are using technology more and more in teaching because it helps them become a better teacher,” Cole said. “The district is very responsive to changing technology and changing education needs. We change and adapt and if we’re intentional about it, it will be better for all of us.”

Cole knows students are very comfortable surfing the web, which is why her main concern is teaching them how to decipher good information from the bogus. She said if students aren’t taught how to find and use reliable sources, then a disservice to the students is the result.

“Sometimes there’s a conflict between do we only allow access to vetted sites, but if we do that we’re not teaching the skills of what’s good and bad information,” Cole said.

Cole also said with so many sources of information available at the push of a button educators must teach students the proper way of developing a bibliography and works cited.

“With technology there’s added possibilities, but also added responsibility on how to use it wisely,” Cole said. “It’s up to us to teach students how to use it wisely.”

Although the district and high school educator’s embrace the wave of the future, there still remains a technological abyss. As technology continues to grow and change at a pace faster than the speed of light, so do career opportunities in the field. Unfortunately, many of the future careers remain veiled in mystery.

Medina said no one knows what jobs will be here in 15 years. Therefore, how can a school district best prepare its students for career possibilities if it doesn’t know what that will look like?

He has a simple and direct answer.

“The most critical thing we can do with students is to teach them how to learn,” he said. “We need to shift the learning focus on to the learner, not on how the teacher is teaching. We need to offer learning opportunities to the student that can line up with how they learn.”

It’s now time for NKSD to grab its surf board, tame of the wave of technology and ride it into the future.

How teenagers and teachers decipher and succeed in their rapidly changing world will be a critical transition for maintaining high academic standards in the North End.

That transition will be easier said than done, as no one truly knows what the future may hold.

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