Rebooting the Classroom

NC State is helping educators make smart use of technology as students explore new ways of learning.

appleBy Kristin Collins for NC State magazine

Elizabeth Kinlaw’s fourth-grade class is a long way from the dated image of students sitting at neat rows of desks, hands politely raised while a teacher stands in front of a blackboard. In her classroom at Fuquay-Varina (N.C.) Elementary School, some students are draped over beanbags reading, some are working independently or in pairs, others are sitting cross-legged in a circle on the floor with the teacher, learning about point of view. Most of them have iPads instead of books in their hands.

This is the new model of education that is gaining traction across the country, one in which students learn in a collaborative, hands-on environment with a whole world of information at their fingertips. Classrooms equipped with digital devices for every student are still the exception in North Carolina and nationwide, as schools search for funding to get devices into students’ hands—and struggle to provide the teacher training needed to make them useful tools rather than costly distractions. A 2013 survey of teachers by the Pew Research Internet Project found that only about half of teachers feel their students have access to the digital tools they need in school. In North Carolina, NC State’s Friday Institute for Educational Innovation is working to change that.

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This article is reproduced from the summer 2015 issue of NC State magazine. The magazine is a benefit of membership in the NC State Alumni Association. To join, go to alumni.ncsu.edu.