Local schools race to keep up with technology

Schools are racing to make children's education as modern and as connected as the rest of their lives.
December 6, 2013 10:15:53 PM PST
Most of us had to adapt to the Internet, but it is all young people have ever known. So schools are racing to make children's education as modern and connected as the rest of their lives. This week, that effort got a big boost from two of the most influential names in tech.

When Mike Doroquez teaches math at Hillview Middle School in Menlo Park, technology is everywhere as students use iPads in the classroom. It's how he collects the homework and goes over the trouble spots.

Take a rubber stylus, plus an iPad and add some PowerPoint and it equals a classroom full of kids who are paying attention.

"It's totally engaging to the kids. They love it and you can see their eyes just open when they see technology on the big screen," says Doroquez.

It's the new face of education for a new generation of learners.

"These kids are digital natives and this is their world. They were completely engaged in the math class," said San Mateo County Schools Superintendent Anne Campbell.

But never mind the iPads and the fancy projection screens, one of the most important ingredients is one you can't see. Hillview Middle School has a blazing fast Internet connection and that's a luxury half the schools in San Mateo County still don't have.

The typical school in America has the same Internet access as the typical home, but they have 500 or in the case of this school, over 800 kids trying to use that bandwidth," said Evan Marwell, the CEO of Education SuperHighway.

Education SuperHighway is a non-profit that's out to change that connection problem with some serious help. They just received $9 million from Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, among others.

"I think what Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg and others have realized is that we're at a tipping point right now in terms of tech being able to really make a difference," says Marwell.

Marlow envisions a world where dozens of classrooms can stream video all at once, using world events -- like the passing of Nelson Mandela -- as teachable moments. However, to get there the SuperHighway has to find out which schools need the upgrades, connect them with federal grant money and give them help spending it in the best way possible. Campbell says investing in that is good for Silicon Valley.

"If they are going to have the workforce that they need to keep America competitive as we move forward, we need to be investment in our public schools. And so it's nice to see this great partnership," says Campbell.


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