Keeping tabs on technology

October 25, 2015

Beginning in 2014, Miami-Dade County started a district wide initiative to go paperless with their Digital Convergence Plan. With this plan, the county hopes to initiate a relevant and engaging curriculum that coincides with the constant advances of technology. However, the plan has spurred controversy among students and faculty.

The district issued tablets to 9th and 10th graders through their English and History classes in an effort to kick-start the new program  Going paperless will increase accessibility, as students will have access to their textbooks through their tablets, no matter where they are.

The district has come up with three ways to have the students access their textbook. Students can request a district provided device (a series of HP tablets) or bring their own device, which they can download the textbook on to. Lastly, students may opt out of the digital device and take home a hard copy.

The district believes that the advancement of technology will help modernize Miami-Dade’s education.

Distributed during the first week of school with high anticipation, the new tablets failed to live up to their hype.  For one, students wasted entire periods attempting to login to tablets that inconsistently worked when grouped together.  

“They’re bulky, heavy and a waste of time. Nobody uses them because there’s a class set of textbooks which are easily accessible because you don’t have to log into them,” sophomore Zeeshan Ahmed said. “Tablets take ten minutes to load.”

The remaining tablets that turn on have the wrong textbooks installed. The standard textbooks being used by teachers district wide were replaced with supplemental textbooks, for unreleased reasons.

“I’ll definitely be more open minded when the right collection [of textbooks] goes on,”  English teacher Mrs. Salas said. “They’re [tablets] a great tool for lower level English classes that need more dynamic engagement in the classroom.”

The school server can’t support the amount of students who need to connect to the Wifi, and  vital class periods normally designated for instruction are instead used to connect to the Internet.

Beyond the classroom, however, tablets fail to meet the needs of students without Internet access at home.

Like any new implementation, it takes time to work out all the kinks. Assistant Principal Ms. Menendez called the process “trial and error.”

Connecting to the server can take the whole class period. With the new technology, one would expect greater productivity in the classroom. The results are quite the opposite. Teachers are left fixing Internet connectivity rather than teaching.

“It was very difficult the first go round [last year] and they lacked connectivity but I saw major improvements this year and I know how to work with them better,” AP World History teacher Mrs. Farkas said. “I’m positive about it because it is the future and the first implementation is hard for anything.”

 

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