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Laptops in schools help students develop digital literacy

It is often noted that should anyone from the past visit our world today, they would not recognize much, including banks with ATMs, cars with GPS systems and phones that fit in the palm of our hands. However, should they visit a school, they would certainly recognize it regardless of the passage of years.

Schools of long ago had students equipped with personal chalk tablets. When large classroom-size blackboards were introduced, teachers found them ridiculously useless as they did not support the style to which they had been trained to teach.

Much is the same with the introduction of computers in the classroom. Yes, one computer per classroom used to be the standard, and that was economical. However, as teachers began to understand that computers were yet another tool to facilitate learning, including introducing, practicing and reinforcing certain skills, that tool needed to be available to each student. Think how silly and ineffective providing one pencil per classroom would appear.

The current debate over whether to continue funding Baltimore County’s STAT Program is missing the point. Our students are entering a world where computer skills are paramount to success. I think about the typing classes I was privileged to take in the ‘60s. I’m sure those typewriters came with a cost as well. The skill I developed has proven to be one of the most valuable for my success as a lifelong learner.

Today’s students need to master digital literacy skills to thrive in today’s world. Standardized tests do not yet measure those skills. Perhaps our efforts should be placed in making sure what we are measuring actually translates into future success.

Kudos to Baltimore County’s STAT program for being part of the beginning efforts to transform schools to meet our students’ needs.

Marcie Zisow, Pikesville

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