Access To Technology Unequal In Elementary Schools

Da Shen, Keila Placido, Khalid AL-Amri, and Cody Masters

Technology is used all across America and Omaha is no exception. It has the potential to improve education and learning in schools, especially if it is implemented correctly. The goal is to show the real role that technology plays in the classroom, and what does the schools’ teachers and students think about this role. Different schools have used a variety of technology and each has implemented it differently. With different ways of using technology it provided us with evidence and feedback on all grounds that we were researching.

Methodology

We collected secondary data from district school webpages about the integration of technology into the school’s classroom. These school districts include Omaha Public School, Millard, Westside, King Science, and Lothrop Magnet Center, where Magnet schools are part of OPS. It was also part of the plan to collect articles that talks about integration of technology into the schools, which we did. Lastly the group analyzed the data to understand how early access to technology is being used in  the classroom. The analysis includes a quick overview by every group member, writing and sharing orientating memos, creating a list of themes, coding for these themes by creating a table with the schools listed on the vertical axis and themes on the horizontal axis, and finally writing a report based upon our findings and literature review.

Findings

Types

Technology is being used majority of the time in schools and is being offered one way or another. We looked at five public schools and one private school on the types of technology that is being offered to students. Westside has provided iPads to every student in elementary schools and then offers computers to 7th graders. Omaha Public Schools have used a wide variety of technology in their schools. Types of technology used in Omaha Public Schools is computers, wireless network, cloud computing application called WebDesktop, web-based tools called data-dashboard project. The network has been improved by providing faster speed of up to 200 times. WebDesktop is a cloud computing system and the function is that any user can use their OPS credentials to log on and have access to their OPS files or applications. Using WebDesktop also allows the user to access it at home instead of only at OPS facilities. Two schools in the OPS district are King Science Elementary and Lothrop Elementary which utilizes computers in its schools. Millard Public schools has provided all 6th grade students laptops for them to use at school and take home. Millard has also provided iPads (32G iPad Air) for elementary schools and smart board for libraries in elementary schools. The private school that was looked at was Brownell-Talbot. The school utilizes computers, iPads, laptops, technology labs, SmartBoards, Apple TV, and document cameras. Overall whether it is a public or a private school, technology is being used in some sort of way.

All different types of technology are being used in schools. Computers were used in a kindergarten classroom for a study by Eunsook Hyun and Genevieve Davis on how well they can talk with one another while using a computer [6]. A survey was done by Donna Fletcher on different types of technology that teachers integrate into their classrooms. Only 31.1% of teachers used a variety of software in their classrooms [7]. Using different types of technology can be beneficial and some schools have seen that. Millard has seen how useful computers can be and bought one for every student. Educational leaders have claimed that computers and other technology “represent an important educational innovations with the potential for stimulating high-levels of student engagement and achievement” [1].

Uses

Our second theme is Uses, which branch into two points, how it’s used, and the areas that it’s used at (subjects). We examined 4 public elementary schools and 1 private school. Our findings are as follows. In Lothrop Magnet Center, students were able to utilize the technology to develop presentations. In Omaha Public Schools, the interface improved the efficiency of using multiple systems to a great extent. Also, the security, reliability and speed were improved significantly. In Millard elementary school, students were encouraged to take part in academic pursuits and their opportunities to learn were enriched by the use of technology. In King Science and Technology Magnet Center, students learnt how to use various equipment involving technology. In Brownell Talbot elementary school, technology activities expanded educational opportunities and broadened the horizons of Brownell, bringing recognition to both teachers and students. Then,we we need to talk about the subjects, which to us means to explain in what areas of education are the schools using technology. For example, all of our schools use technology to teach technology, but only some of them use it to teach science (Physics, Math) classes, like King Science Lothrop Magnet Center or Brownell-Talbot School. The rest however, like Lothrop Magnet Center lack the involvement of technology in other subjects, while only involve it in some of the science class but all of them. The good news is that one school of them use and apply technology in all their classes including art classes which is Brownell-Talbot School.

Then we start analyzing the uses of technology. Firstly, as in many of Omaha’s schools, we have seen a rise in the use of technology in classroom, according to our secondary data. For example, in King Science school, technology was only add in the year 2003. This increase allows the student to learn more effectively and learn subjects like science and math easier. J. Daniel House, from Northern Illinois University, agrees with this view by saying “computer engagement can be used to produce learning gains in science.”[3] Technology use is not only limited by the classroom, it is also beneficial in laboratories. Astudy by Johnny J Moye, Dte, William E. Dugger, Jr., Dte, and Kendall N. Starkweather, Dte, about the views of teachers on education, in the study this what one of the teachers said “You cannot learn science out of a textbook! You can only learn science by doing labs and using your skills.”[4] This shows the importance of the labs, and most if not all science labs need efficient and up to date technology to be an effective learning experience. Secondly, all the five schools were able to integrate technology effectively. According to previous research, Staples, A. (2005) and other authors say that “Technology integration may be likely to pose a special challenge in urban schools, which tend to be under-resourced to begin with.” [2] But our findings disagree with their opinions. In our research, all the examined urban elementary schools were able to integrate technology effectively, and no evidence of under-resourced challenge was observed. But we only looked at some secondary data obtained from the official websites of the schools, which is limited, so future studies are needed in order to make an all-round conclusion about this challenge.

Ratio

The next theme is the ratio of computers or other kinds of digital equipment to students. We have data for three schools, two of them are public and one is private. In Omaha public schools, each usable computer is shared by 3 or fewer students in all schools. In Millard elementary school, every student has an own laptop in 6th grade. In Brownell-Talbot elementary school, every student has an own ipad in grade 5-6.

According to previous research, Howley, A. (2011) and other authors say that the socioeconomic status of school does not associate with the school’s technology integration significantly.[1] But our findings disagree with their opinion. The three examined schools have different socioeconomic status. In particular, one school is private while the other two are public, and Millard is considered by many local people to be a better school district than Omaha Public School. Because the ratio of computers or iPads to students in Millard and Brownell-Talbot is significantly higher than that in Omaha public school, we derive that technology integration has significant association with the school’s socioeconomic status.

Access 

In the article “What it Takes to Move From ‘Passive’ to ‘Active’ Tech Use in K-12 Schools” they talk to different teachers in schools with one being Chris Craft.  This man teaches a STEM class and has a 3-D printer in which students may use to create prosthetic hands for less fortunate children. The access that the students have to the 3-D printer is as much as they want.  Another source in this article is another teacher Stephanie Villegas lets other teachers explore with their students on the game minecraft about their own ideas and creations.  The access of minecraft is to everyone and can be played at home or while in the classroom.

What this article is proving is that technology is a very good thing to help students “…student agency,real-world problem solving, hands-on building and experimentation and creation, collaboration with peers and others, working for an audience outside their own classroom, and using technology as a means rather than an end…”[5] this is what he said his class is supposed to teach and says it has improved how the children think.  The second teacher, Stephanie Villegas, is more interactive with the technology and making the students do hands-on learning by “ …design a new zoo, complete with scale-model zoo landscapes, digital soundscapes for a variety of environments, a land-use analysis based on research using city planning maps, and a presentation to officials from Austin’s existing rescue zoo.”[5] This has allowed the students to see how the technology works and how to use it later on in their lives.  Also, it allows them to be able to understand how to think critically and be creative with the technology they have.

Conclusion

With all of our information collected it is a good thing for students to get introduced to technology early so they will not struggle with more advanced technology later on in their lives. With this it will help them grow and be able to understand technology better and to think critically and creatively in their future.

Reference

[1] Howley, A., Wood, L., & Hough, B. (2011). Rural elementary school teachers’ technology integration. Journal of Research in Rural Education (Online), 26(9), 1-13. Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.leo.lib.unomaha.edu/docview /877890715

[2] Staples, A., Pugach, M. C., & Himes, D. (2005). Rethinking the technology integration challenge: Cases from three urban elementary schools. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 37(3), 285-311. Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.leo.lib.unomaha.edu/docview/274762484

[3] J. Daniel House (2012). Science Achievement of Elementary-School Students in the United States and Japan in TIMSS. International Journal of Instructional Media, Vol. 39 Issue 3, p263

[4] Johnny J Moye, Dte, William E. Dugger, Jr., Dte, and Kendall N. Starkweather, Dte(2015). learning by doing study, Analysis of Second-year Results. Technology and Engineering Teacher, v75 n1 p18-25

[5]Benjamin,Herold. (2016). What it Takes to Move From ‘Passive’ to ‘Active’ Tech Use in K-12 Schools. The Education Digest; Ann Arbor82.2: 33-38.

[6] Eunsook, Hyun and Genevieve Davis. (2005). Kindergartners’ Conversation in a Computer-Based Technology Classroom. Communications Education, vol. 54, no. 2, Apr., pp. 118-135. EBSCOhost.

[7] Fletcher, Donna. (2006) Technology Integration: Do They or Don’t They? A Self-Report Survey from Prek through 5Th Grade Professional Educators. AACE Journal, vol. 14, no. 3, pp. 207-219. EBSCOhost

[8] WESTSIDE COMMUNITY SCHOOLS http://westside66.org/teaching-and-learning/technology/

[9] Millard Public Schools Parent/Guardian FAQs http://one-to-one.mpsomaha.org/parent-faq

[10] Millard Public Schools http://www.mpsfoundation.org/who_we_are/publications/technology-for-millard.html

[11] Omaha Public Schools Technology Plan 2013-2014 http://district.ops.org/Portals/0/General%20Administration/IMS/Technology%20Plan/20132014TechPlanWebsite.pdf

[12] Brownell-Talbot_StudentParentHandbook15-16 https://www.brownell.edu/uploaded/Campus_Life/student_parent_handbook/2015-16_Student_Parent_Handbook_FINAL.pdf

[13] king science technology magnet center  http://kingscience.ops.org/KingScience/AboutourSchool/tabid/59/Default.aspx

[14] Lothrop Magnet Elementary http://lothropmagnet.ops.org/