Chromebooks are the New Textbooks: More NJ Schools Assign Laptops
Schools across New Jersey are learning they can't ignore the digital age.
Even if the process takes years, several districts and schools have been making efforts to provide most, or even all, of their students with an electronic device like a laptop or tablet in order to enhance the learning experience and prepare students for a technology-driven world on the other side.
These decisions are made at the local level, and statistics are not tracked statewide, but according to Larry Cocco with the Office of Educational Technology within the state Department of Education, the number of computers and other devices in the classroom has been increasing over the past few years.
"The push to get more technology in schools, and get students more familiar with digital learning and the digital world, is one that all educators are taking very seriously," Cocco told Townsquare Media.
Cocco said part of that push is due to assessments such as PARCC that require online access.
With help from the state, Cocco said, more than 99 percent of PARCC-takers last year were using a device to answer the questions.
In Freehold Township, every student from third to eighth grade is provided with a Chromebook laptop, and sixth-through-eighth graders are allowed to take the devices home with them. In fact, they need to in order to get their work done.
"They're on the computer to function the way we do in the real world with our email, word processing, spreadsheets, Google drawing, presentations," said Ali Ryan, an educational technology coordinator within the district. "It's an integral part of their homework lives."
The devices were phased in slowly across the district, grade by grade, to make sure teachers were properly trained on the equipment.
"We're preparing kids for jobs that don't exist yet," said Superintendent Ross Kasun. "Most traditional schools, I think, are preparing kids for our past and not for their future."