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Perham teachers start tech training

Connie Vandermay/FOCUS Perham-Dent School District teachers and staff have started training in on their new iPads.

Perham teachers and staff have started training in on their new iPads. They recently completed the first of a series of five day-long training sessions that will continue through the summer.

Grouped together based on ability levels, teachers concentrated on a variety of issues, including: accessing online storage, educational applications, e-books, lesson plans and other basic uses for iPads.

Some of the more technologically-advanced teachers are already developing skills to utilize a 'flip classroom,' in which students watch videotaped lessons at home and then do homework assignments in the classroom.

Opportunities like this are available for the first time due to the Perham-Dent School District's recent purchase of iPads - one for each student in ninth through 12th grades as well as teachers and staff, plus a scattering of iPads spread throughout the elementary and middle schools.

Funds for the new technology were available through a levy referendum passed by voters in April.

"It levels the playing field," Superintendent Mitch Anderson said of the iPads in an interview. Now all students at Perham High School will have access to the same technology, regardless of personal situations.

Anderson said the main goal of this project is to improve student achievement by increasing technology in the classroom.

"A present and engaged student is the best student to have," he said.

But before the district can reach its overall goal, the teachers need to be trained on how to use the iPads in their classrooms. Come fall, students will go through a similar series of training opportunities.

In the future, the district hopes the iPads help meet cost saving measures - less paper (because assignments will be done electronically) and less textbook purchasing (because of affordable and readily available e-books).