Schools rank well in tech survey
North Dakota and Minnesota public schools generally fared well in a study measuring classroom access to, and use of, technology. The two states were at or above the national average in most categories surveyed by Education Week magazine. The surv...
North Dakota and Minnesota public schools generally fared well in a study measuring classroom access to, and use of, technology.
The two states were at or above the national average in most categories surveyed by Education Week magazine.
The survey found, for instance, that 97 percent of classrooms in both states have Internet access. The national average is 94 percent.
The study shows most North Dakota schools are committed to technology in the classroom, said Dan Pullen, director of the state Educational Technology Council in Fargo.
Some of the study's findings -- such as North Dakota's relatively low student-to-computer ratios -- are skewed by small classes in rural schools, he said.
Still, the study accurately reflects the state's progress in bringing technology into the classroom, Pullen said.
But, he said, it's not enough to simply make technology available to teachers and students.
"The primary issue is to make sure the technology resources are used in productive ways," he said.
For instance, the state has helped establish a program that allows students in different locations to enroll in one class through the state's on-line network.
This is especially helpful in rural districts, which often lack the resources to offer advanced courses on their own, school officials say.
Gerald Hagen, technology coordinator for the West Fargo School District, said he takes a two-pronged approach.
One part of that is getting enough technology into classrooms, he said.
The other component is training staff and students to use technology effectively, he said.
"We're working very hard on that," Hagen said.
Computers are used in many ways in West Fargo schools, he said.
Some teachers, for instance, supplement history and science textbooks with interactive Web sites.
And many teachers use the Internet for up-to-the-minute information on subjects too new for textbooks -- the war in Iraq, for example.
Personal computers and the Internet aren't the only technological tools that school districts can use, he said.
The West Fargo district plans to install a new, more advanced phone system.
School officials said the new system, which could include a phone in virtually every elementary classroom, will allow teachers, parents and administrators to communicate more efficiently.
Moorhead schools have emphasized getting technology into classrooms and using it effectively, said Lynne Kovash, assistant superintendent for the Moorhead School District.
"That includes training our staff and teachers," she said.
The district has assigned staff members to help teachers integrate technology into their classrooms, she said.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Jonathan Knutson at (701) 241-5530