Teachers get immersed in tech as they prepare for school year
Educators say they have to keep up with the latest software, hardware and social media
It's not just back to the books for thousands of Saskatchewan students today — it's back to the laptops, tablets and smart phones.
Teachers have been preparing for another year using technology as a tool for learning.
At a recent training session in Regina, teachers were learning how to bring the latest tech into their own classrooms.
Jason Grayston, a high school teacher at Winston Knoll in Regina, was demonstrating a brand new tool for teachers and students called Google Classroom.
"It allows people to take their kids into a paperless environment in their classrooms," he said. "Distribution of assignments and taking in of assignments, marking of assignments — but in a very simple way."
In another session, Grade 8 teacher Aaron Warner was demonstrating how he uses the microblogging service Twitter as a teaching tool.
He teaches his students how to act on social media, and how to be good digital citizens.
"Representing yourself online, standing by what you said, editing — 'If I tweet this out, how is it going to be perceived from different people who are reading it?'" he said.
Twitter and Google are free services, but the computer hardware children use comes with a cost — and that's an issue for school systems everywhere that are concerned about equity.
"If you ask a student, they'll tell you everyone has a smartphone or tablet, but of course not everyone can afford them," said Mick Panko, vice principal of Campbell Collegiate.
Both the public and Catholic school systems in Regina keep extra tablets and iPods on hand for those students who can't afford their own.
Integrating technology into lessons is something that's not going away, Panko says.
"If we deny kids those opportunities and we just expect 'You're going to do this on your own time' we're really putting our heads in the sand," he said.
"That's the world we live in and we're trying to be responsive that's why technology in the classroom is a tool and not a means unto itself."
Educators say they know children from Grade 1 all the way to Grade 12 are being exposed to the newest gadgets and social media, so they have to do their best to keep up.
With files from Adam Hunter