(Calais, VT) When a school receives new technology, it can be an exciting opportunity to expand learning and help guide students in an increasingly connected 21st century world. Students at Calais Elementary have been able to do just that, by getting more personalized experiences when working on computer-based projects. The e-Vermont initiative, and its educational partner Digital Wish, have helped implement broadband Internet usage. Computers were provided for every single student in three classrooms. Principal Grace Hoffman emphasizes that "of course the hardware is wonderful, but the educational support is the best!" Through the efforts of Digital Wish's trainers, 4th, 5th, and 6th grade students and teachers alike were able to have their tech-related lessons and projects reinforced with weekly instruction. Digital Wish’s trainers came to teach 6 different technology units.
This allowed the new technology to be integrated successfully at the school, and also granted many students the opportunity to work with a computer at home for the first time. As a result, all participating students were able to practice critical basic skills like keyboard typing while at home, and also troubleshoot any problems they might have experienced. Furthermore, the use of new presentation tools like Prezi was not just confined to the school training sessions. After the training, teachers were comfortable enough to utilize these new tools for projects without the aid of the Digital Wish trainer. Additionally, students were able to continue working with programs that intrigued them outside of class. In fact, the use of these technology tools wasn’t even confined to the participating classrooms. The Calais Elementary Art teacher collaborated with the Digital Wish trainer to enable students to use their new skills to create a digital presentation about an artist. Broadband Internet access has also proven versatile, with Ms. Hoffman describing how students students conduct research online for projects, improve their arithmetic by playing math games, and utilize a classroom blog for collaborating on assignments.
Overall, teachers are reporting that families are excited and receptive to their children receiving proper technology education in the classroom, and about the ability to take their netbooks home in the evenings. Some families have even acquired broadband Internet since students started bringing their netbooks home, allowing them to stay connected for school work inside and outside of the classroom.