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Hillsboro schools keeping pace with technology

Staff writer

USD 410 this year is implementing a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) initiative called Project Lead the Way into its middle and elementary schools. The change is slow in coming.

“It’s gonna happen, we’ve just gotta make it happen,” elementary school principal Evan Yoder said. “Since it’s so new, teachers are still trying to wrap their hands around it. The only teachers that have been trained (in the PLTW curriculum) are the two that went to training this summer.”

That isn’t to say, however, that technology isn’t being incorporated. The district purchased more iPads for the elementary school to use in order to better prepare students for the middle school level, when they’ll be loaned laptops for yearly use. The additional 25 iPads brings the school’s total to around 50.

“The iPads are a great way to introduce kids to the technology,” Yoder said. “The programs are really something. They attract kids’ attention and really hold it.

“It’s something the kids want to have in their hands. It’s made a big impact.”

Hillsboro students have had access to technology for years. Their Lenovo Thinkpad laptops are more expensive and have higher computing power than Chromebooks.

Hillsboro High School principal Max Heinrichs said his students are on year two of their second three-year stint with the machines they’re using. He said he would consider switching from laptops to Chromebooks when the decision time comes.

“We want to see if it does what we want to do,” he said. “It’s definitely something to consider as we move into our third round of purchases.”

Hillsboro schools have implemented Project Lead the Way curriculum in grades eight and below, after a full incorporation into the high school curriculum last year.

The biggest change in the classroom might be who the expert in the room has become — and no, it’s not the students.

“The expert in the room is now the computer,” Heinrichs said. “You can Google anything.”

For Heinrichs, the biggest benefit is giving students access to a valuable learning tool at class and at home, something both laptops and Chromebooks provide.

“You can use it when you need it,” he said. “It’s not going to make your students better that don’t want to be better.”

As the students and teachers both adjust and learn how to use the machines to their benefit, the consensus is technology has given students a boost and made things quicker and less cluttered.

“We would never go back,” Heinrichs said. “It’s a great tool.”

Last modified Sept. 18, 2014

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