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Technology at Pequot Lakes Schools: Building tomorrow's technology skills today

Building 21st century skills is a major focus in education today. Schools across the country are working to teach students the technology skills that they will need in their post-secondary endeavors.

Our graduates will need to be able to leverage the functions of multiple platforms and systems and have the knowledge to be competitive in tomorrow’s job market.

As a result, Pequot Lakes has invested in providing the technology resources necessary to learn these important skills. Completed concurrently with capital improvements, the approach to upgrading our technology has been multi-faceted, including digitizing curriculum in some courses, using interactive and collaborative tools in the classroom, and allowing students to use their own technology devices while at school.

Students at all levels in Pequot Lakes Schools are taking advantage of new digital curriculum in their classes. Students are able to access the same material from at home or at school without having to worry about forgetting an assignment at school or lugging a textbook home.

Students are able to work on assignments, collaborate with other students and submit work for grading from anywhere they have an Internet connection. Digital content also provides an individualized approach to learning by which students can work through material at their own pace.

Teachers are also working on integrating technology to help their students achieve at the higher levels necessary for post-secondary success. SMART boards, iPads and many other new tools are allowing teachers to create highly interactive and engaging lessons for their students.

Teachers are able to quickly assess student work, provide feedback and communicate with parents regarding student progress. Curriculum software has allowed Pequot Lakes Schools to better align content with state and national standards, while the assessment software gives teachers and administrators the data they need to better meet the needs of all students.

Finally, one of the biggest changes in regard to technology is the implementation of a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy in the district. The BYOD policy allows students to bring their own technology devices to school and use them in the classroom.

Examples of devices include laptops, tablets and smartphones. There are several benefits to this program, the first being that all schools struggle to put enough technology resources in the hands of their students. A class that has 25 students but only 19 laptops will be limited in terms of the assignments or projects that can be done since some students would not have a device.

With BYOD, if only six students bring a device, suddenly everyone has his or her own computer or tablet. Thus, assignments do not have to be group work and students can work individually at their own pace.

Additionally, students are able to always use a device with which they are comfortable; they can start an assignment at school and finish it at home using the same device. These same devices are used as personal organization tools that help students keep track of assignments, due dates and materials.

Developing 21st century technological and organizational skills are an important component of every child’s education in Pequot Lakes. As they move forward toward graduation, the Pequot Lakes School District is working hard to give all students the skills necessary for them to be successful in college or their careers.

(Kevin Furst is Pequot Lakes Schools technology integrationist.)