SPECIAL REPORT: Learning goes high-tech

Local News

We often hear that young people rely too much on technology.

But some Columbus educators have found ways to put students’ zeal for gadgets to use in the classroom—especially in Muscogee County’s new state-of-the-art Spencer High School.

Contemporary educators are finding the old school saying — “if you can’t beat them, join them”– true, when it comes to technology, students, and the classroom.

Many modern classrooms no longer have teachers demanding students put away the phones, tablets, and laptops. Instead, those technologies are worked into lesson plans.

“With the kids, they’re more proactive in their education when they actually have that extra use of technology. When they actually can use it the right way, they’re more productive. I get more worked turned in than when I try to fight that battle,” said science teacher Brandy Hill.

Business education teacher Tomacia Johnson said, “I think in the past, technology can cause there to be a disconnect, but what I love about what we have now at Spencer is it allows the students, even from their seats to be able to communicate with me on the Smartboard.”

In Mr. Bruce Dansby’s automotive mechanics classroom, instruction not only involves hands-on learning. Technology also drives the lessons.

“Every day, when they come into class, they log into their textbook, access it, and do their assignments, so their assignments are all electronic,” said Mr. Dansby.

The new Spencer High School opened its doors for the first time this fall. Construction on the estimated $55 million facility concentrated on making it a state-of-the-art high school.

No where is that more obvious than in Ms. Brandy Hill’s science classroom.

“Our kids can actually scan a QR code and actually screencast from their phones to the smart panel, if they need to, to show their work,” Hill said.

Hill has a “bring your own technology” policy in her classroom. Kids can bring in their laptops and cell phones to use as part of the lesson–but the amount and ways they utilize these tools varies depending upon the day’s objectives.

“We have red, green, and yellow days. On the yellow days, it’s strictly only educational purposes.  And then, on the green days, it’s a ‘use it as you need,’ but the kids use it for research. They’re given a list of appropriate websites,” said Hill.

Just down the hall, Tomacia Johnson teaches business education. And since business is an industry forced to keep up with technology, she finds the new Spencer High School more than equipped to offer her students a contemporary education.

“It’s very interactive where the students can be at their seat and put in a code and be able to interact with the teacher. It’s a lot of collaboration which allows the students to either individually communicate with use through the Smartboard or even when we put them in groups to collaboratively communicate, so it’s a lot of hands on,” Johnson said.

Teachers also say the new school has sparked an enthusiasm beyond learning in their students.

“l even see students who pick up trash off the floor because they are proud of their school or a student has come and said, ‘So-and-so is writing on the desk’ because they are proud of their school. So, I see the morale has boosted,” Johnson said.

Another positive — the hands-on, technologically-advanced lessons offer Spencer graduates tremendous advantages.

“When they graduate this course, they have the ability to take a test and have certification, a certificate that actually gives them a foot in the door. When they go out to apply for jobs, it’s huge to them,” Dansby said.

“Normally the test, to just get the certification, just to take the certification test, can be between $60 and $70, but for our students, it’s free. And they get two times a year to be able to take it. And it’s a test that adults take. And they’re able to put it on their resume. They’re able to put it on their college transcript,” Johnson said.

A school that puts technology to work in the classroom to benefit students when graduation leads them into the real-world.

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