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Columbia Board of Education tours schools with new technology in classrooms

George Varney

The Columbia Board of Education visited three schools Thursday, two physically and a third virtually, to see how new technology is being used throughout the district.

       At Midway Heights Elementary it's the first year where there are classrooms have provided one mini iPad for each student.  Midway is part of an elementary school iPad pilot program along with Shepard, Grant, and Russell Elementary. 

       Columbia Public Schools Director of Technology Chris Diggs said the iPads, along with desktop and laptop computers, provide a number of new ways for students to learn.

"Some were learning individually, some were practicing letter writing, some were using them for higher level thinking, planning a trip and map reading, things like that. So we saw quite a variety of applications and uses," Diggs said.

       Manager of Instructional Technology Julie Nichols says the money for the new technology came either from fund matching between specific schools and the Board of Education or from reallocation of existing technology budget funds.

       Nichols said she is pleased with the current progress of the technology programs and wants to see more personal technology for students.             

"What I would love to see is a one-to-one initiative for all students. I know that's a long ways down the road," Nichols said.

       The board also visited Smithton Middle School and saw an interactive whiteboard used in an orchestra lesson. It also virtually toured Battle High School where students use apps to supplement their textbook education.