Internet connects Murray with students

Naselle junior Austin Smith and freshman Grace Zimmerman are involved with a video conference with Sen. Patty Murray (on television monitor) concerning the usage of technology in the classroom. NHS Principal Karen Wirkkala and Superintendent Rick Pass look on as Smith and Zimmerman explain the pros and cons of online books.

NASELLE — “What is your opinion about using digital textbooks for learning? What are their advantages and disadvantages over the printed textbooks?” were the questions U.S. Sen. Patty Murray posed to Naselle junior Austin Smith and freshman Grace Zimmerman Thursday, June 9 during a teleconference with Western Washington students from four high schools.

“It can be difficult to find your place in a digital textbook if you have forgotten to bookmark where you are, especially if the book is 600 pages long,” Smith answered. “Sometimes the lighting can be a problem, but having everything on an iPad and not having to carry around a lot of books is an advantage.”

Zimmerman said, “Students with eye problems may have difficulty with digital textbooks, but storing an iPad is much easier than a locker full of books.” Both NHS students agreed that the “search” option for digital books is a great advantage.

Assistant Principal Jon Tienhaara asked Smith and Zimmerman to participate in the teleconference and Superintendent Rick Pass was instrumental in coordinating Naselle’s participation as he is on the ESD 112 technology committee. “Debbie Tschirgi helped make the teleconference with senator Murray a success. She is familiar with Naselle School District’s extensive use of technology in the classroom,” Pass said.

Students from Kelso High School were asked by Senator Murray, “Do you think that your school district should require each high school student to take an online course in order to graduate?” They answered that it is important courses are offered to provide students both the educational opportunities and also the experience in studying online. They did not believe online courses should be required.

“Should we consider using games for learning?” senator Murray asked students from Evergreen in Vancouver. They answered that strategy, problem solving, and puzzles were a part of learning. “Games such as hide-and-seek and tag have been played forever and they have helped mankind with survival skills,” Tyler Bounds said.

“When you think of how technology is used in schools today, what is working well? What is not working well?” Murray asked White Salmon students. They felt projectors and white boards were a necessity for learning and that laptop computers helped a great deal in being mobile. Outdated hardware and software were a problem and they felt that some teachers were not comfortable or adequately trained in technology.

Senator Murray had similar discussions with students from four high schools in both the Spokane and Seattle areas. “The main purpose of the teleconferences was to listen to the ideas of the students,” Tschirgi said.

“I am proposing the Attain Act to help school districts afford technology and teacher training where budget cuts have forced class sizes to grow,” Murray said. “The hope is that effective use of technology will help students obtain the best education possible, despite budget constraints.”

Smith said, “I thought the teleconference went pretty well, but there were a couple of other things I would have liked to have touched on, but we were limited to two minutes.” Zimmerman said, “I think this went well. I haven’t done much public speaking and this was a good experience for me.”

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