PEI

P.E.I. makes technology in classrooms a priority

As new Wi-Fi networks are installed in P.E.I. schools over the next 15 months, the province is making plans for students to bring their own laptops, tablets and phones to use that Wi-Fi.

'We have to prepare our students for the knowledge-based economy.'

These students are looking forward to using more technology in the classroom. (Krystalle Ramlakhan/CBC)

As new Wi-Fi networks are installed in P.E.I. schools over the next 15 months, the province is making plans for students to bring their own laptops, tablets and phones to use that Wi-Fi.

All high schools will have Wi-Fi by the end of this school year. The remainder of schools will have it installed by the end of 2016.

I think it's really cool because we can do all our work on  Google .- Grade 8 student Carter MacNeil

The province is also working towards having students bring in their own tablets and laptops. And for those who can't bring their own device, 7,000 new computers are going into schools.

"We have to prepare our students for the knowledge-based economy that they're heading into," said Education Minister Hal Perry.

Peter Rukavina, president of the P.E.I Home and School Federation, supports the direction the department is taking.

"Having Wi-Fi there, and having a framework that allows personal devices to be brought in, I think, is an excellent step," he said.

Paperless classroom

Teacher Jaclyn Reid says her Grade 8 students were excited that they would be using Chromebooks in their science class. (Krystalle Ramlakhan/CBC)
Jaclyn Reid, a teacher at Stonepark Intermediate School, is embracing technology in the classroom as part of a new pilot project. Instead of traditional textbooks, students will use new Chromebooks to access WiFi that's been installed in the classroom.

The laptops have been purchased by the Department of Education. The WiFi network has filters that block certain sites, just like all of the computers in the school's computer lab.

"They were so excited when I told them about it when they first came in on Tuesday," said Reid.

"It definitely engages the students."

Reid said it's time for teachers to teach the value of technology beyond texting and social media.

The students are looking forward to it.

"I think it's really cool because we can do all our work on Google and Google Docs and we can save our stuff and we can send our work to our teacher's email, so we don't have to hand stuff in and she can just correct it automatically on that," said Carter MacNeil, a Stonepark Grade 8 student.

"You can look up stuff that you need to look up instead of having to walk down to the computer lab and waste time. You can just stay in class and work from there," said classmate Brandi Nalesso.

Perry said it's a goal to have a policy for children bringing devices to school in place as soon as possible, but he said the province wants to ensure safety, technology and infrastructure is in place first.

As one of the first steps toward that happening, students and parents have been asked to sign a new agreement on how technology will be used in the classroom.

Question of the day: Is it a good idea for students to bring their own laptops and tablets to the classroom?

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