Schools, teachers preparing students for a digital world

Published: Sunday, Sept. 9 2012 1:00 p.m. MDT

"The key components of a smart school are simply this — one that you have really effective networks and the infrastructure in place before the technology goes live," iSchool chairman Tom Pitcher said. "Two more big components that I would like to put out there is one, Internet security and child safety become paramount when you have all of these devices in the hands of kids."

Pitcher said iSchool's expertise, and the whole reason it exists, is to facilitate a customized learning environment for each child.

"The biggest one … you look at the impact that it is having on the teachers," he said. "The way we look at the teachers that they are the portal into the students. That’s who's going to deliver all this into the classroom."

He said they prepare the students for the experience by training them on how to use the devices in the classroom and how to teach with them.

"The systems, the Internet security and the teacher training, now everything is ready to go there's only one final problem … and that is that we have to pay for it," Pitcher said.

Pitcher also said that while iSchool has worked with several states, because their program is only used in public schools, they have never worked with a state that used economic development money to fund the Smart Schools.

"We track statistics that show that right now Utah graduates 74 percent of its students, which is actually pretty good nationally," he said. " The only problem with that statistic is that by their sophomore year in college only 18 percent of the kids are enrolled in a college or university. They just aren't prepared for that experience and that's where it starts to hurt the state in its pocket book."

He said the same statistics show that if they could improve graduation rates by just 3 percent those graduates would produce over $20 million a year in state tax revenue.

Twitter: @FinleyJY

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