How many times have you been in a restaurant, library or grocery store and people are on their phones? Adults are always connected to their mobile devices. As we become a more mobile, global society, what do we expect from our children? At what age do we expect our children to be connected to devices? According to EverydayFamily.com, thirty-nine percent (39%) of our 2-4 age children and fifty-four percent (54%) of our 5-8 year olds are exploring with mobile devices. From personal experience I can state my 4 year old granddaughter, Maddie, knows how to use an IPad and IPhone. My nephew, Eric, age 7, can do almost anything on either my IPad or IPhone. Even ten percent (10%) of our children under the age of 1 have been introduced to a mobile device.
How do you feel about the latest craze of mobile devices? Everyday Family states seventy-seven (77%) percent of parents believe the tablets help children’s creativity and learning. Thirty percent (30%) of the apps parents download are for their children. Educational games and creative aps have led to wonderful opportunities for children to learn about their world. The IPad has helped my relationship with my grandchildren. With the use of Facetime, my grandchildren call me on a regular basis. The ability to see each other as we talk has increased their engagement in our conversations. I would never want to go back to the old phone conversations.
Why would schools want to get into this mobile device world? Many of us think that kids only use the device for fun and games. However, over fifty percent (50%) of children under 12 use the devices for other uses such as music and art, math and puzzles and character based. The IPad is a study aid for students. Ninety percent (90%) of students of all ages believe that mobile tablets help them student more effectively and ¾ of the students prefer tablets over textbooks. Studies show that educational apps increased vocabulary of 3 year olds by seventeen (17%) and increased by twenty-seven percent (27%) for five (5) year olds with the same application. Schools can either move forward with mobile devices are be left behind. Schools are expected to compete with one another due to open enrollment. Parents may now choose to take their child to almost any school without having to pay tuition. Schools are in need of numbers to keep the funding to support their schools. Many of the schools in our area are struggling with decreasing numbers thus decreasing funding. Schools have to “buy in” to the mobile device craze or parents will choose different schools to take their children to.
How will JCD meet the challenge of the mobile device craze? JCD will implement a 1:1 Computer initiative in the fall of 2014. Students in grades 7-12 will be leased a laptop. Teachers have been receiving training on the new format “My Big Campus” that will be used to disseminate curriculum. This will be a blended method of textbooks and laptop as both the student and the teacher develop the skills to be successful. Students in grades 3-6 will be leased an IPad. Teachers will use the devices based on the student skill and grade level to disseminate, improve and enhance curriculum. The curriculum will be more engaging due to the virtual interaction allowed with the IPad. Again, the blend of textbooks and IPads will be used to ensure all standards are properly covered. Finally, we are awaiting grant awards to determine if funding will be available for grades K-2. If grants are secured we will allow grades K-2 to use mini-IPads to reinforce skills and encourage creative and problem solving skills.
I am sure that parents and community members have additional questions about the 1:1 computer initiative. The JCD website will have Frequently Asked Questions very soon.
This initiative could not be done without the support of our community and school staff. Their efforts to keep JCD as a global learning environment are appreciated.