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Include technology in school backpacks

Writer: Dr. Mariah Smith Morgan, MSU Extension Service

The lazy days of summer are winding down, and shiny new school supplies are greeting us on our weekly grocery runs. When the school bell rings this year, students will need to pack more than just their lunches and new school supplies. They also will need to pack technology.

Some schools are jumping on the technology bandwagon by offering iPads for students to use during the school day. Today’s school-aged children have never known a world without the Internet or computers. These children are called digital natives. Increasingly, educators are merging the tools these students use daily, such as smartphones, tablets and the Internet, with the traditional classroom.

As students head to school, there are several key pieces of technology that are useful for completing homework or reviewing for tests. Students are going to need access to either a computer or a tablet device. The device selection is largely dependent on the age of the student and the difficulty of the homework. Tablet devices, such an iPad or an Android tablet, are more suited for younger children, who will spend shorter amounts of time on the device. Computers and laptops are more useful for older students or those headed to college.

Younger students may need only a tablet device. To make a tablet more useful for homework, consider downloading a free app to create school reports, such as QuickOffice. Other apps, such as the My Spell Test, give you the ability to create customized spelling tests. Look for study apps, such as Studyblue, that allow users to create their own flashcards for review or choose from flashcards someone else uploaded.

Tablets are easy to use, but students will need a printed report to turn in to the teacher most of the time. Be sure your printer is AirPrint compatible if your student uses an iPad. For android tablets, Google Cloud Print can make connecting to a printer seamless. Most printer companies have apps that can be downloaded for the tablet to make printing easier.

Other technology gadgets that can make the school year easier include simple things like USB flash drives, external hard drives, portable speakers or cables that allow you to connect your tablet to a projector or television for presentations.

Parents have traditionally labeled everything from lunchboxes to underwear, but StickNFind gives parents the option to stick a Bluetooth tracking device on any object and locate it with an app downloaded to their phones. It also allows you to leash devices so they can only travel a certain distance before your phone alarms.

The Sky Wi-Fi smartpen allows students to write notes or record lectures and download them to an Evernote account, which can be useful for students to transcribe notes or share what they have done that day with their parents.

There is almost no end to the ways a little technology in an old-fashioned book bag can help students during the upcoming school year.

Source: Include technology in school backpacks

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