TWIN FALLS • Education technology professor Dave Makings has seen the way technology has evolved during his time at the College of Southern Idaho.
He introduces his education students — the next generation of teachers — to some of the gadgets and programs they may see in their future classrooms, such as online course management systems and iPads.
There have been “massive changes” in technology, Makings said, including what he teaches students.
“It has changed significantly over the years,” he said.
In the early 1980s, Makings developed the college’s first microcomputer class, which covered topics such as word processing and spreadsheets.
“There was a huge interest in the class,” he said during an interview in the Aspen building at CSI’s Twin Falls campus. “It was a big deal when we hit 100 computers on campus. Now, there’s probably more than 100 computers just in this building.”
With the state’s Students Come First reforms passed earlier this year, there’s a different K-12 classroom landscape — one with more advanced technology and online classes.
School districts statewide recently received about $4.3 million total in funding from the Idaho State Department of Education to enhance classroom technology.
Also, the Idaho State Board of Education approved a requirement last week making the Gem State the first in the nation to require high school students to take at least two credits online in order to graduate.
CSI education student Lorraine Book, 24, said it’s important to introduce technology into schools in order to prepare students for life outside the classroom.
However, “I don’t know if it’s right to force a student to take online classes,” she said. “It might not be their learning style.”
Book said she’s learned the importance of being open and flexible to changes in the classroom.
“We need to use the resources available to us to help each student learn in their own, different way,” she said.
Tanner Baumann, 18, said he’s in favor of online classes “as long as kids know how to do it” — if there’s assistance for students so they know how to navigate the online format.
Book and Baumann are both students in CSI education professor Evin Fox’s “Foundations of Education” class. Fox led her students in a discussion Friday centered around one question — “What role should technology play in education?”
Some students said online classes are a detriment to learning because there are distractions and the format may not mesh well with every student’s learning style. Others said technology should be a tool to assist teachers — not replace them.
For Makings, the goal is to keep classroom instruction about technology “as practical and down to Earth as possible.”
The overarching idea he emphasizes to students is lifelong learning — that they’ll need to adapt to changes in their classroom and be able to seek out information.
“You have to be able to learn on the go,” he said.