Private or public? It’s an important decision that parents make with their kids; where to send them to school. Today the decision becomes more pertinent as some schools adapt to the updating technological world. Some schools have made the leap farther than others, but is it the right choice?
The Pacific College of Education’s Early Learning Community program has more equipment than most other kindergarten classes in Forest Grove, but not by far. The kindergarten class at Harvey Clark Elementary uses computers, cameras and smart boards just like the children down in the bottom of Berglund.
The ELC, an experimental school for 3 to 7-year-olds, is both a place for children to learn and also a place for Pacific students to study and hone their teaching skills. It began three years ago and since has seen many education students and students from other areas of study, pass through its doors.
It is a school studying and growing from what is ascertained to be the best methods of teaching young children and part of that involves today’s new technological advances.
How public schools and the ELC use the technology is the main difference between the two.
According to Mark Bailey, a professor of education and the director and creator of the ELC, “They have some of the same tools that we have, but they operate under some different challenges than we do.” For example, the class ratio at the ELC is 20 students to three teachers, whereas normally there is only one teacher to each class in public school kindergarten classes.
The ELC classes also run for an entire day while other kindergarten classes only run for approximately half a normal school day.
Early Learning Community students use the technology only when it applies to their lessons or activities. They can use electronics every day of the week or go for many days without picking up a camera or getting on the computer.
At Harvey Clark Elementary the children see computer time every day. They have daily 90-minute activity rotations where each student will end up spending approximately 10 minutes on the computer.
While the ELC has some technology like video cameras, digital microscopes and iPads that other kindergarten classes do not, the public schools are not without their strong points.
Mark Bailey pointed out that the smart board, a projector board that is like a giant touch screen computer the kids can use, in the ELC’s kindergarten room is quite new to them and they do not know how to use it to its full potential yet.
Bailey is hoping Serena Fryer, a teacher at Joseph Gale Elementary who has a lot of knowledge on smart boards, will soon be coming to train the teachers at the ELC how to take advantage of all the smart board’s functions.
While the ELC and regular public schools do not share the same electronic equipment, the trend today is to prepare younger students for the technological world they have been born into. So far, the outlook is optimistic on children learning how to use technology at such an early age.
If they know how to use it now, the novelty that adults have with technology today will not be the same for them in 10 to 20 years.