Enter The Edu-Matrix
GRPS starts initiative to improve technology in schools
By Elijah Newton & Emilio Rodriguez
In Grand Rapids the school system has issued a plan to improve technology and to get students more time with it. In order to keep up with changing technology, Grand Rapids Public Schools (GRPS) has set an initiative to have students learning with technology for at least 15 hours a week. In 2011 GRPS released the Instructional Technology Plan which stated the plans for integrating technology into the learning process for July 2012- June 2015. The plan goes on to say that, “We must use technology to promote creativity, collaboration and problem solving and truly transform our educational institution.”
Many GRPS students seem to have the same overall view that technology has helped them at some point in their education. “I did ACT training on a laptop and it really helped,” said a student. Most say they think that GRPS should get better technology for them to use, but have said that it is getting better. One student said that the technology needed to be improved if they (teachers) wanted students to do better on assignments.
For a more official point of view, we asked The Executive Director of Communications & External Affairs, John Helmholdt his perspective. He stated, “we live in the ‘Information Age’… where technology is changing by the second. In order for our students to be adequately prepared to compete in the real world and global economy, technology in the classroom is absolutely critical.” He went on to say that the biggest problem is funding but, the district is exploring a bond proposal in November 2015 that would substantially improve the technology fund.
The general consensus from the public is that students should have iPads and laptops to use on a daily basis, but most don’t know that this is already the case in some schools. For example, at U-Prep, located at Division and Sheldon, students were given Nooks to use in class and to take home. Students use the Nook to access their books and other learning tools such as dictionaries. At Union High, located on the Northwest side of Grand Rapids, students were given iPads which served as research tools and also gave the students access to the books they needed to read. Mr.Justin, a teacher at the West Michigan Center of Arts and Technology, said “Technology is the future, the way teachers teach now doesn’t work anymore.”
On a national scale, “97 percent of schools have internet as of 2010” as stated in Technology in Education – Education Week Research Center. In the future it’s possible that all teaching will be done online and the old way of lecturing will be a thing of the past. GRPS is working their way to having better technology for all their students. They are working to go above and beyond just internet access. Technology creates opportunities in school such as access to multimedia content, online courses, digital games for personal learning, and social networking tools. GRPS is on its way to connecting students to the technology of the future. For more information on the GRPS technology initiative, check out the details here.
Many students and community members were interviewed for this story. Click the interactive map below to see many of these locations.