Technology changes the face of education

6:28 PM, Dec 12, 2011   |    comments
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At Knox County's L&N STEM Academy, the face of education is changing.

Paper textbook are all but gone. Fingers replace pencils when taking notes

Halfway through the first year of classes, students and teachers alike marvel at the differences to other schools.

"We built these soda bottle rockets and launching them, I think that's the closest we ever got to doing something like this," said freshman Eric O'Reilley.

Every student and teacher has an iPad. They are used for textbooks, art projects, even in gym class. The technology allows for new forms of classroom interaction.

"I have some students who are a little more shy than others, and its fantastic to be able to answer their questions via e-mail while I'm simultaneously answering another student's question in class," said english teacher Tressie Norton.

Even days off are productive.

"My friend's sick right now, and he'll "facetime" me to see what's going on in the classroom so he can take notes," O'Reilley said.

The new take on education is not lost on L&N students or staff.

"Its not like any other school that I've taught at." Norton said.

"This is the first time I've been in a school that is technology based," said freshman Trevon Covington. He feels having the technology helps students appreciate their education more. "They've got a better understanding about how precious your education is based on using these iPads."

The tablets were made possible through donations by two local organizations.

Randy Boyd of Radio Systems contributed 100 iPads, Oak Ridge Associated Universities donated $25,000 to buy additional devices.

The school's principal, Becky Ashe, said putting the technology and internet access in students hands has revolutionized their learning experience.

"That old barrier of 'I don't have access to the internet outside of school', it's been taken away," she said. They have the free access, and now they have the tool to access that with. It tore down all those barriers, all those excuses, and it's resulted in expanded learning for our kids."

The school will showcase the first semester of student work Tuesday night from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Students will demonstrate the various projects and assignments they've completed using their iPads and other technology. All community members are invited to attend.

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