For longtime educator Neil Rochelle, bringing computers into the classroom is more than just ensuring there’s technology present in schools.
As the project lead for some of the primary grant projects for Guam Department of Education, Rochelle’s on a mission to continuously enhance education with the use of technology and further use it to bring new opportunities to students.
One of his most recent and notable projects was incorporating 21st-century libraries into schools. So far, he has achieved that by installing Promethean boards, a brand of interactive white board, or “smart board,” in almost all of the school libraries, and in some computer labs as well. Teachers and staff use the technology but he said it’s important for students to use it as well, to help promote interactive learning and spark their creativity.
That mindset aligns with the expectations of students such as Elijah Santos, a 14-year-old sophomore at John F. Kennedy High School. He said technology’s potential extends further than just social media or entertainment.
“To me, using technology in the classroom means taking advantage of a variety of digital resources for our educational growth such as our phones, laptops and Google applications,” Santos said.
Engaging students with tech
Rochelle stated that over the course of his time as a project lead for technology grants, he’s seen a drastic decrease in GDOE’s dropout rate – from 5.3% in school year 2011-2012 to 3.2% in 2017-2018. He attributes that to two things: technology for engaging students and giving them new means of expression and learning, and a refreshing new take on the interaction between teacher and student.
He said when teaching is combined with technology, the result is a learning experience that engages students and allows them to learn effectively.
Santos said, from his point of view, more teachers need better training in using and incorporating technology into their daily curriculum.
“I think it is definitely important for teachers to adapt to new technological standards and enhance curriculums,” Santos said. “Technology is not just a tool, but also a form of media, which requires some standards as we use it as an outlet for our education. Sometimes I think that we should tweak the curriculums so that technology is more promoted in a student’s education.”
Santos has also seen the advantages of technology in the classroom blossom before his very eyes.
“Some positive things that I have seen come from teachers incorporating technology into the lessons include a more convenient and less time-consuming way to make and present projects, through Google Slides and projectors, unlike poster board, which isn’t mobile and restricts us to present a single slide of information,” he shared. “I noticed that technology in class also helped me cooperate with my classmates, as we were allowed to work on our projects at home or even when we’re away from each other.”
‘A great way to prepare us students’
Santos summarized the purpose of incorporating technology into the classroom.
“It is simply a form of media that we use to enhance our education. I truly feel that it is a great way to prepare us students for the working world, which relies heavily on technology.”
Some argue that GDOE should hold off on pushing these new technologies. According to Rochelle, “I think for years, everybody has criticized technology for a number of reasons. One, they think it’s a fad that’s going to go away. I think we know now that’s not happening. I think that people just think it’s something nice to have.”
Rochelle believes that since technology has been introduced to the classroom, learning hasn’t been the same.
“Can you still get the same education without online learning? I’m going to say challenge that and say no you can’t because there is so much available.”
Rochelle makes it clear that his passion truly shines in his work, and his motivation to bring about a refreshing new take on education has been and will continue to be the driving force for helping students.
He is well aware of the potential technology brings to the classroom, and is at the forefront of facilitating the inevitable transition into a new technological standard.