Digital Migration: New Technology Brings Changes to the Educational Landscape at NHS

By: Madeline Schindler

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A quick look at the computers in the ninth grade building shows how technology is beginning to look more and more natural across the campus landscape.

Newnan is waving its final good-byes to the 90s and ushering in a new era, embarking on what can only be called a “Digital Migration.”

During the first week of school, students were given a student email address and codes for Google Classroom. This was just the beginning of NHS’s more digital-friendly platform.

Newnan is definitely no stranger to incorporating technology into the classroom. Teachers have been utilizing sites like Edmodo and Quizlet in recent years, but introducing Google was a game-changer.

In accordance with the early-August activities, students were anticipating the Homecoming Game in October and of course the nominations for Homecoming Queen. This year, nominations went a little differently.

Students were able to submit their ballots through a link sent to their student email. This new voting method proved to be much more efficient than the old system.

More importantly, “it protected classroom instruction,” Mrs. Kelley Finger, instructional coach and STEM mentor at NHS, said.

The online ballot was an early indication of the end of conventional paper-and-pencil ballots.

NHS utilized Google Classroom in courses with Student Growth Assessments (SGAs) to move testing online.

“All SGAs have been administered through Google Classroom,” Mrs. Finger stated.

Students in every SGA course used the Classroom platform to take the test, while courses with an End of Course Milestone were administered through the state’s electronic platform.

Since the 2015-16 school year is the baseline year for online EOCs, it’s uncertain how test scores will change.

“We are becoming much better at analyzing data,” Mrs. Finger affirmed.

The data collected from the online tests will be used to determine how the curriculum will shift.

“You see trends [and] see what to improve,” Mrs. Elizabeth Doster, NHS instructional coach, explained.

Google Classroom has also improved communication between students and teachers. With their new school Gmail accounts, students can easily email their teachers.

Through Classroom, teachers can post assignments, power points, notes and other online resources for their students.

Another added benefit of Gmail is easier contact with counselors.

“Technology allows for the counselor and student relationship to be vaster,” Pam Lewis, NHS counselor, said.

Mrs. Lewis emphasized the importance of in-person interaction between students and counselors. She explained how email should not be a prime source for communication and will not replace a meeting with a counselor. It does, however, make counselors more accessible to students and parents.

“Google, Twitter, and email allow us to be more available,” Mrs. Lewis said. Students can be assured that their questions will be answered and that they have the support of the counselors at NHS.

So where does NHS stand in this “Digital Migration?”

Mrs. Finger said that NHS is “ahead of other districts.”

NHS is well-advanced in the movement for tech integration. According to Mrs. Finger, the state of Georgia was allowing a three-year period to incorporate more technology in classrooms.

Technology has made more efficient use of time and teaching.  Students seem to be more engaged in a lesson if visual aids, slides with color and pictures or video, are provided.

Mrs. Rebecca Snider, NHS Assistant Principal and Testing Coordinator, said teachers are embracing and beginning to make the transition to a more digital classroom.

NHS’s updated heavy online presence has rasied the question of whether schools could completely turn digital and abandon paper once and for all.

“I’m not sure if the school will ever go paper-free,” Mrs. Snider commented, “but I definitely see a dramatic decline in paper usage in the upcoming years.”

A paperless school system may not exist any time in the near future, but the reaches of educational technology are only going to expand.

According to Mrs. Finger, “it’s here, and it’s here to stay.”

If we are not going to be rid of paper, then what’s the goal of this digital migration?

“We’re preparing our students to be college and career ready,” Mrs. Finger stated.

Having student email accounts will prepare students for what they can expect after high school. The online resources now made avialable to students also provide more learning opportunities and allow the school to be more efficient with instruction.