The newest processes in today's ever-changing technological world often become obsolete before training for their applications is complete.
But that doesn't stop local teachers from making certain their students get every advantage available in the use of computers.
"We use computers every day in the classroom, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and this year we have gotten Moodle," said Monica Hutchinson, business technology teacher at Austin High School. "Moodle allows the students to upload their work to us like they would do in college, which saves on printing and paper, and also prepares the students for college."
Hutchinson said hopefully next year schools will be offering the students the possibility of certification in Microsoft Office programs.
"This would make them even more marketable to the workforce," she said.
Hutchinson recognizes the challenge in keeping students abreast of the latest technology when "they may have something better at home than we have here at school. But I do feel we teach students the basics and fundamentals that are transferable to newer software versions."
Joanna Schley, who teaches biology to a freshman class and marine biology to juniors and seniors at Austin, said when it comes to computers she tries to meet the needs of all her students.
"I have students that might have the top of the line in everything at home," she said. "And I might have students who are brand new to this country, and it could be the first time they are sitting down to a computer. I want to make sure that all students have reliable access to computers and that those who are using them for the first time are capable of producing and performing the same activity as the others."
Schley teaches from a laptop and administers her notes through PowerPoint. She uses the laptop for any videos students might watch, from a DVD to something from YouTube or from videos the teacher might have purchased on iTunes.
"The notes are not traditional notes — they are more of an interactive process," she said.
Alesia Doran, also of Austin, teaches the Project Lead The Way national engineering academy program and uses technology in numerous ways in her classroom.
"The PLTW curriculum and 15 different software packages are downloaded from the pltw.org site each Aug. 1 and installed to be ready the first day of school," she said.
In a ninth-grade course, Introduction to Engineering Design, Austin students complete a virtual design project with students from other high schools in the United States and in other countries.
Doran also teaches three other courses in the program for sophomores and juniors. In Principles of Engineering Design, students use the Internet to look up and calculate gear ratios from programming gears for VEX robots.
"YouTube videos are used to research manufacturing processes such as sand casting and the properties such as ceramics, timber, polymers and metals," Doran said. In Civil Engineering and Architecture, students use the Internet to go to the eplans.com website to look up residential floor plans. They research how to make their homes more energy efficient.
And in Digital Electronics Design, students use the Internet to look up Integrated Circuits Datasheets for the components used in class.
Robin Gillespie teaches talented and gifted students at Oak Park Middle School.
"I teach various technology skills, starting with research and how to use Google to find information, then prepare the students to participate in the Alabama Council of Education Competition at the Von Braun Center in Huntsville," she said. "Students are doing video production, multi-media projects, websites and robotics."
The students spend the first semester doing mini-units and around Christmas select tools they want to become an expert in and develop a project on a topic of interest using that tool.
"We have had a wide variety of topics, ranging from immigration, the Wounded Warriors, Dress for Success, duck hunting and a robotics project on developing an NXT writer and printer."
Ronnie Thomas can be reached at 256-340-2438 or email@example.com.
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