OUR OPINION: Lee County schools choose tech pathway

By NEMS Daily Journal

Wireless Internet access in Lee County schools – approved with federal funding by the School Board and the state Board of Education – opens doors to a universe of resources at the fingertips of teachers, but even moreso to students, whose mastery of electronic keyboards and apps is a phenomenon.
In the spread of only a few years, classrooms have transitioned from basic paper and pencils to the electronic mobility of facts and ideas from more sources than the largest book libraries.
The Lee County schools’ students fit firmly into a generation more at home with an electronic classroom in their hands or on their desks.
Many parents and some teachers find that fact discomfiting; in large measure, students know more about the method.
The $135,000 in federal funds through Title 6 programs is for school districts with a lower-income profile and assists them in staying at least even with districts able to invest more broadly in technology from their own or private-sector resources.
Lee County, district officials said, will use the funding to provide access and to buy laptops and computer carts for its schools.
The fast adoption of classroom technology has critics who question its efficacy in building basic knowledge, but the stronger voices nationwide believe schools cannot defer on adopting technology while risking the loss of students’ and parents’ support. Recent nationwide polling has found parental demand for classroom technology above 90 percent, with strength coming from parents who are computer-skills-limited but seek a better knowledge base for their children.
If not in public schools now, then certainly in universities and other colleges after graduation a substantial level of computer use and learning is recommended, and in some disciplines there are specific requirements before enrollment.
Both the University of Mississippi and Mississippi State University, for example, have websites specifying recommendations and requirements for student-use technology:
• http://www.olemiss.edu/online/computer-sysreq.html
• http://www.its.msstate.edu/support/desktop/specsstudent/
Better understanding and use of technology from grade school moving forward is not the future; it’s the present moving ahead.
Northeast Mississippi’s students aren’t competing with one another but with peer schools and students worldwide.