SHS must keep pace with technology

November 18, 2008 — by Gautham Ganesan

It would seem that an esteemed public high school located in an affluent neighborhood in the heart of Silicon Valley would be at the forefront of technological advancement. Saratoga High should logically boast a vast array of high-tech educational options for its students, ranging from the availability of high-speed wireless internet to a greater emphasis on technology-based learning.

Though the school is moving ahead in this area, it is by no means a leader. Not only does the school lack basic high-tech features, such as the aforementioned wireless service, but the influence of technology as a whole on the campus, outside of select areas, is startlingly low.

While SHS is somewhat on par with its Bay Area counterparts technologically, schools such as Lincoln High School in San Jose and Monta Vista High in Cupertino have wireless infrastructures that encourage the use of laptops among students, two phenomena decidedly absent on campus. Additionally, with many universities espousing the use of purely digital textbooks, several high schools have followed suit, encouraging students to shed their often inordinately bulky, book-stuffed backpacks in favor of a personal laptop. Even fundamental practices, such as the blocking of popular web sites like YouTube are archaic exercises counterproductive to students’ intellectual growth.

The advantages of incorporating technology into a high school education have been extensively detailed by countless studies. According to the U.S. Department of Education, the widespread use of technology in the classroom serves to shift the role of the student from passive observer to active participant, helping them to make choices regarding the acquisition, manipulation or display of information. While it would be absurd to suggest that Saratoga High students are wholly deprived of such benefits, as technology does play an integral part in a handful of courses like journalism and video, there is little doubt students would benefit from using more technology in their school day.

Luckily, administration has realized this, evident in the institution of the Media Arts Program for the 2008-09 school year, an alternate learning experience founded heavily in technology and the use of technology in scholastic endeavors. Still, despite incremental improvement in the utilization of technology at SHS, such as the steadily growing population of SMART Boards found in classrooms, the school remains behind the cutting edge with significant room for improvement. Given the context—a school supported by tax dollars stemming from some of the most technologically innovative minds in the country—SHS has no excuse for not being a leader. ◆

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