Free Program Helping School Bridge Tech Divide For Students

NEWARK – Teachers at Stephen Decatur High School are employing a new learning program in an effort to narrow the technological and educational gap among its students.

Decatur High School Testing Coordinator Brian Phillips met with members of the Worcester County Board of Education Tuesday to discuss the progress in student achievement with the use of technology.

As part of its “One-to-One” Initiative, the high school aims to have one laptop for each student.

Last year, the school was in the process of giving all freshmen students a laptop.

Since then, almost 50 percent of the student population now has laptops, according to Phillips. Yet, many classrooms go without.

“We are undergoing a digital conversion,” Phillips says. “But in the interim, there are a lot of classrooms that don’t have them.”

To address these gaps, some teachers are using a free program that allows the students to use more than just laptops.

This program, Quizlet Live, is a technology-first program that allows students to use smart phones and computers in brief daily competitions.

Quizlet Live uses flash cards and vocabulary terms to test the students’ knowledge on a particular subject.

The teacher can change the questions and subjects to fit the needs of his or her classroom.

The program places classroom students in random groups. Each group must then work together to answer each question correctly on their smart phones.

Whichever team answers all questions correctly in the fastest time wins, teaching students the value of accuracy.

The results throughout the entire challenge are displayed on a screen in the front of the room.

The whole process takes four to six minutes of the class’s time, according to Phillips.

“We have teachers that are creative and use other forms of technology in their room,” Principal Thomas Zimmer said.

Not only does this program address the technological issues the school faces, but also adjusts to the changing environment, according to Phillips.

This year’s high school seniors will be the last class born in the 1990s, Zimmer says.

To adjust to the next generation of tech-savvy students, the high school is trying to achieve its initiative.

“When I was a senior in Snow Hill High School back in the Stone Age, the newest technology was colored chalk,” Zimmer says.

Now, Quizlet Live can foster teamwork and engage students in a new learning process, something Phillips says worksheets could not do.

Teachers will now be able to look at student responses and address learning and instructional issues immediately.

This allows the teacher to see what outcome his or her method of teaching is providing, Phillips says. These methods can then be changed to ensure all students are learning.

“Technology used the right way can be engaging,” Phillips told the board.

Phillips says using technology as a team allows the students to communicate with one another.

To make sure all students are included in the game, those without smart phones can go to a classroom computer or share with another student, Zimmer says.

Until every student has the technology they need, Phillips and Zimmer are asking the board to support the campaign.

“With your support in the One-to-One Initiative, we can really step up meaningful activities that happening in the classroom,” Phillips said. “It’s a far cry from where we need to be with regards to meaningful instruction and the use of technology.”

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

Alternative Text

Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.