Digital School is the New School

Published: Nov. 5, 2014 at 1:42 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 15, 2014 at 7:43 PM EST
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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - (WTVM) - Here in Muscogee County, students are evolving into hi-tech gurus, already knowing their career path well before graduation. It's all because of the use of the latest technology in classrooms.

Today's definition of a classroom has changed. Classrooms of today are more technologically advanced than classrooms of the past.

"Looking forward tomorrow's graduate is going to be expected collaborate with their co-workers in a technology-friendly way," says Ronald Pleasant.

Pleasant is the brains behind technology in the Muscogee County School District. As Senior Director of Project Management and Technology Operations, Pleasant has seen a digital upload over the last six years.

"We've updated the tool size that we use for students and faculty to include the computers their using, the software, the solutions that they use to communicate with each other and collaborate with each other," Pleasant adds.

That tool is Microsoft Office 365.

"They're allowed as a part of this member to download 5 copies to 5 different devices," Pleasant explains.

All on their personal computers to use in the comfort of their home. With it comes an email account, approximately one terabyte of online storage space to keep digital records like term papers, homework assignments and projects.

And there's more – students can also email their assignments to teachers.

Jonathan Gosha, a junior at Carver High School, uses the program to the fullest. He accesses Microsoft Office 365 from his cellphone. He showed us his world history PowerPoint presentation on the Democratic Republic of Congo.

"I can access it anywhere now," Jonathan explains. "I have it on my phone and my iPad can do quick edits if I'm not near a computer. It's really nice."

Jonathan found his passion for technology in middle school doing videotaped morning announcements. That propelled him into Science Olympiad and Robotics in middle school, but his knack for tech bytes really fired up in ninth grade when he was issued a Netbook.

In 2010, Carver High School received a grant for $2 million. That money was able to put a Netbook in each child's hand and they could take the Netbooks home. Even though that program ended a year ago, the computers are now being placed inside the classroom for students to use.

"I really didn't have a computer of my own, I shared one with my mom," Jonathan explains. "So the chance for me to do all my work and everything on my own computer and then have it always there with me during school and after school kind of helped me out."

It helped Jonathan out in a big way. For him, technology classes were the way to go.

"We took apart a computer and put it back in working order and I said oh this is nice and this is what I want to do for my career," Jonathan said.

Jonathan's computer knowledge started expanding with web design and coding classes. It became evident to his peers and principal

"Mr. Lindsey came to me and said do you want to design the school's website and I was like know I've only taken two classes," Jonathan recalls.

Jonathan rose to the challenge: not only is he creating the schools' website but he's also designing pages for auxiliary clubs.

As the art of technology continues to evolve, the youth of today are advancing with it. On our journey to find digital tools in schools, we found a student at Arnold Magnet Academy who's transforming the school's newsletter from print to digital.

"I decided to give it a fall theme and on the first page we decided to let the parent know we would not be doing it on paper but is environmentally friendly," said seventh grader Miguel Alonza.

This is Miguel's first issue. He clicked through the 15-page newsletter, showing off his creativity...

"They look at the sales going on at the actual stores so if a kid wants to get some junior cargo pants at Target, they can know it's buy one get 50 percent off," Miguel said.

No doubt, the students in today's classroom are well on their way in the world of technology using digital tools in schools.

School officials tell us they spent $24.5 million on new computers for students and smart technologies for the classrooms. The funds came from the 2009 SPLOST, or Special Local Option Sales Tax.

Feel free to join the conversation online by using #DigitalToolsforSchools.

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