LUSD invests $7.4 million in technology

Sandra Sunio, Staff Writer

Back in the golden age of yellow pads and Cornell notes, students struggled to follow their teachers’ lectures as they rushed to write good lecture summaries.
Now, with the world firmly entrenched in the age of technology, many schools in the nation are gradually transitioning from paper to computer. Students are now able to take note of every lecture, word for word.
Ever since Lodi Unified purchased Chromebooks, it has become common for teachers to greet their students by instructing them to grab one to start the class.
But the question for staff, administration, and even students, is whether this 1:1 investment is a hit or a miss. According to Lodi Unified Director of Technology Services Dale Munsch, last year, the district rolled out a 1:1 investment to 15 LUSD schools — a $2.4 million investment.
“This year, we deployed to the other 34 school sites at a cost of about five million [dollars],” Munsch said. “There are a total of 38,000 Chromebooks in the district. Every school [has] a 1:1 device for students.”
In total, the district spent $7.4 million on new technology in the classroom. Is this transition encouraging diligence or hindering focus? Are the students really working on their research project, or are they just passing time by streaming episodes of “Grey’s Anatomy” on Netflix?
“What I have found is that I have a higher rate of classwork and homework being turned in since we’ve switched over to electronic devices,” social science teacher Jason Johnson said.
Johnson finds that his students seem more motivated to actually finish their work during class with the new technology implemented in the classroom.
Some students use their time and resources wisely, completing all of their assignments in class if they do not have access to a computer at home. Meanwhile, others use the time to shop online, play games, or stream online movies.
Senior Jordyn Miller finds that students in her AP classes are the ones working hard on the Chromebooks while her CP classmates slack off and are easily distracted by the online freedom.
“It depends on the class,” Miller said. “My experience in CP English, everyone just played games the whole time instead of doing their work.”
Rutgers Law School professor Stuart Green observes most of his students distracted by the exposure to technology in the classroom. “Students use computers to take notes, sure, but that’s not all,” Green said in an article entitled “I’m Banning Laptops From My Classroom.” “One spent class streaming a hockey game.”
“Honestly, I really think it’s a miss because teachers don’t really know what we’re doing on the laptops, and even though it might benefit us, it won’t benefit the kids that don’t want to do anything if they’re not focused enough,” senior Genevie Concha said.
A 2014 study conducted by Pam A. Mueller and Daniel M. Oppenheimer showed that students who solely take notes electronically perform worse than those who take notes on paper. From a psychological standpoint, actually writing the material out helps one remember more than merely typing onto a screen.
With students slowly transitioning to electronic education, many find it harder to retain information by typing everything onto a screen, as opposed to the traditional way of taking notes with paper and pencil — making sure to be attentive and write down only the important information since the writing process is slower than the typing process.
Online tests also pose various challenges to students. In the reading and writing section of the SBAC, for example, students often get frustrated since they cannot physically annotate the text.
Submitting assignments online has also become more popular. Google Classroom allows teachers to post and receive online submissions, although some wait until the 11:59 P.M. deadline.
“[I wait until the last minute] because it’s available,” senior Blake Chapman said. “I know I have more time, and if it were due sooner, I would do it faster. Turning it in online gives you more time.”
However, there will always be those students who procrastinate and get away with cheating — physically or electronically — but that’s another story.
“I just think it’s easier to get everything done and turn things in,” sophomore Aryah Coilton said of the use of technology in the classroom. “One negative is that sometimes it’s hard to stay focused; sometimes I just want to play cool math games.”