Growing Up Digital: Teaching with Apps


Some parents say phone and tablet applications have helped their children conquer learning disabilities, like dyslexia. Others say it's helped with grades. Now, Central Nebraska's teachers are using apps to help teach.

Psychologists say the digital world keeps teens distracted with social media, cell phones, and the need for a constant connection with the virtual world, and technology in the classroom could be very effective.

Josh McDowell with Grand Island Public schools said, "This is the world kids live in and this is what they've come to expect. And we're catching up to their world, so if we want to engage kids in school and we want to make learning relevant and rigorous for them, this is the environment they have to live in. So that's the reason for this push."

Psychology of technology expert Dr. Larry Rosen said he's met with school districts around the nation, and many have the similar reasons to move toward digital learning.

"One reason is because this is the way our world is going, everything is digital or everything will be digital. But the other part is these kids who have been using technology since birth, literally, find it very engaging they're bored to tears with normal school," Dr. Rosen said.

Students at GISH said they like the iPad learning experience for a number of reasons: it's interactive; they won't have to run to the lockers as much in between classes, because everything is now in one place; it takes up less space in their backpacks; and they are a lot less heavy than books.

Teachers say tablets or laptops in the classrooms are not just for the lighter feel or the fun, they see it helping with grades. GISH teacher Melissa Anderson said, "Our kids who struggle in reading now can have it read to them or our kids who need more visual videos can have a more interactive learning experience."

GISH student Layne Gardient said "She (Ms. Anderson) will be able to e–mail us a video so we could watch it, like if we're learning about mitosis we could actually watch what mitosis is doing and what it looks like live in motion, instead of looking at a photo in a textbook."

More and more educational publishers are moving to the e-book format, and while some school officials say they aren't replacing all of their books just yet, they could be moving toward that in the long term.