This month’s issue of Riverside Magazine covers several of Riverside’s wins including the combined efforts of the City, non-profit organizations, and technology corporations towards becoming an intelligent community.
The following is an excerpt from the article discussing technology integration throughout the city and in the classroom.
Riverside has many of the ingredients necessary to compete in a smarter, more advanced and connected 21st century economy: tech-savvy elementary and high school students, research-based centers of higher learning, forward-thinking business leaders, engaged city leadership … and now those elements are coming together to improve Riverside’s national — and even global — standing. We take a look at some of the highlights:
Visit any campus in the Riverside Unified School District and you’ll likely see a familiar sight: students fiddling with smartphones, iPod Touches and laptops. But you’ll also discover an important difference: students are encouraged to use their electronic gadgets in class. Many of them are even given the gadgets by the district.
It’s part of an effort to make those devices an integral part of the education experience, according to Jay McPhail, RUSD’s director of instructional technology. “We’re trying to use current technology to extend learning in the way it’s extending communication and gaming in the non-educational world,” he said. The concept behind the district’s digital endeavor is that learning can occur 24 hours a day instead of only while school is in session. Since many students — especially the older ones — spend so much time on their smartphones anyway, district officials decided to try to inject education into those devices too. “Our students can learn 24/7 or they can play 24/7, but they shouldn’t need two different devices,” McPhail said.
From pre-kindergarten to 12th grade, the district is encouraging students to learn using different gadgets, including iPod Touches, iPads, Android tablets and laptops. Thanks to grants from Apple, Target and Verizon, plus state and federal governments, and partnerships with 20 companies, the district has been able to provide 12,500 electronic devices to students in all grades.
Teachers also invite students to bring their own devices to class. At Bryant and Pachappa elementary schools, kindergarteners are using iPod Touches and iPads to improve their English and math skills. And last fall, Ramona High School went digital — becoming the first comprehensive public high school in the state and the third in the nation to make the leap.
Students were issued Android tablet computers to access all of the learning materials they need for every class, making it unnecessary to carry a backpack stuffed with heavy textbooks. Even lessons that teachers present in class can be automatically uploaded to each tablet. “We encourage students to personalize the devices because they take better care of them if they do that,” said McPhail, adding that students are responsible for the tablets just like they used to be for the textbooks. There are plans for the district to fully integrate digital devices at each school site and make sure that every student has access to them. Said McPhail: “We’re trying to bridge the digital divide.”
(To view to the full article, click here)
Riverside strives to be a leader in access and integration of technology in the community. The efforts of SmartRiverside, Innovative Economy Corporation, and the School Districts to use of digital resources in the community is a reflection of the City of Arts and Innovation’s commitment to technological advancement.