AUSTIN (KXAN) - Mobile technology and academics go hand-in-hand in Leander Independent School District. In Kindergarten through 12th grade, their students are using laptops, tablets and smartphones as an everyday part of the classroom.
At River Ridge Elementary, one third grade class has one iPad for every student. Teachers say it's taken a traditional learning environment and made it much more interactive. Students can look up vocabulary words, or use apps to answer questions.
"Oh [the kids] love it!," said third grade teacher Sarah Yanes. "They're super engaged! One of the [apps] they really enjoy is 'Today's Meet.' Another one is 'Poll Everywhere.' The kiddos can respond instantly, with an answer, and they see the feedback immediately."
The program was funded primarily through parent donations. Every grade level and fine arts class has access to iPads, and it's created a world of education possibilities.
"It breaks down walls," said River Ridge principal Jim Rose. "We can have discussions with kids from one classroom to another classroom, or kids from this school to another campus."
At Vandegrift High School, eighth grader Yilong Peng from Canyon Ridge Middle School is able to take an advanced math course through video conferencing. He can see the class. The class can see him. He even participates in group work.
"The people in my group sit on the floor and tilt the camera downward," said Peng about distance learning. "We work together on the problems, and we can talk back and forth about the solution."
Students also use their smartphones for Personalized Instruction Time (PIT) class every day. A mobile app, or QR code, allows students to select the course where they want extra tutoring.
It's a "BYOT," or bring your own technology, policy. And the goal is college-readiness. Where mobile devices were once forbidden, they are now not only encouraged, but essential.
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