Sumner schools expose technology to adult learners

Academics: Teacher says students are digital natives, but adults strive to catch up with latest gadgets

of the HeraldJanuary 29, 2014 

Alex Walker, an eighth-grade teacher at Mountain View Middle School, instructs Linda Adye-Whitish how to use Google for more than just email and searching.

SANDY MAYNARD/COURTESY PHOTO

The Sumner School District is working with its focus on technology to educate the parents and caregivers of children as well.

“We did this three years ago, and when we did it then, we knew there were many people retooling their skills,” said Sandy Maynard, the district’s chief technology officer. “The world of technology is moving so fast, (parents) are coming to us saying their kids are being exposed to tablets, and how do they use it?”

Maynard said the spectrum of what could be taught is broad.

“It’s really fun, showing people the potential of what’s out there in the market,” Maynard said.

From Jan. 21-23, the district presented Technology Days, which offered free individualized instruction for community members who needed assistance on a variety of tools and resources. Courses included downloading to an e-reader, accessing school and public library resources, how to use Microsoft Word and Excel, Internet safety and how to access student Google accounts from home.

In many cases, teachers and district staff members taught the courses.

Connie Haines, a speech and language pathologist teacher at Liberty Ridge Elementary in Bonney Lake, taught the course: Help! The kids know more about my device (phone or tablet) than I do! Haines also is Liberty Ridge’s instructional technology leader. She is responsible for helping teachers understand how to use technology in their classroom and for keeping them up-to-date.

Throughout Sumner elementary schools, iPads are now part of daily instruction.

“We have introduced a lot of iPads in lots of special education classes throughout the district,” Haines said. “It’s a great way to engage kids who learn differently.”

Haines said some iPads are in kindergarten through second-grade classrooms at Liberty Ridge and used as part of instruction.

In many respects, Haines said students naturally understand how to use the technology, but parents, teachers and some district staff members aren’t as familiar with it.

“I think it’s great that students are digital natives,” Haines said. “Us adults and teachers and parents, we really have to stay ahead of it and learn it.”

Haines said the district’s Technology Days event is just one part of that solution.

“It’s definitely an ongoing project,” she said. “All of the teachers are in a constant process of learning. We have to be active learners.”

For the tablet-instruction course, Haines said the district officials brainstormed what people would need help with, and they chipped away to solve some of those issues. She taught basic skills such as acquiring an application for an iPad, installing an app, deleting an app, moving it around or setting up an account properly.

The class had a low turnout, but Haines felt she provided quality instruction with the people who were there.

“They will be able to use what was taught to them well,” she said.

Reporter Andrew Fickes can be reached at 253-552-7001 or by email at andrew.fickes@puyallupherald.com. Follow him on Twitter, @herald_andrew.

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