ARLINGTON, SD -
Arlington High School may look normal from the outside, but inside room 258 is a look into the future.
"We want them to be a 21st century learner, that’s been a buzz word in education now. Getting them on board with what is happening in the world," english and speech teacher Lisa Parry said.
In Mrs. Parry's english and speech classes you'll find each and every student equipped with a laptop. They use this laptop daily, not only at school, but at home as well.
Now, students at Arlington High School say they have the world at their fingertips and Parry says they are now ready for the next step.
"If we just confine them to books and papers and pencils and school and don't expose them to those technological mediums, then we are handicapping them as we get out because that is not what the world is," Parry said.
"I think a lot of other schools aren't as prepared when they see these kinds of things. They don't really know what it's all about and they can't experience it as well," Arlington High School senior Josie Flatgard said.
Flatgard says having the ability to use the web and discussion boards is broadening her perspectives.
"I think it's a lot better, we can do discussion boards where everyone types in discussions to questions and what we think and we can talk about it right there," Flatgard said.
Cody Hall, a senior who is heading to SDSU in the fal,l says having the ability to have the Internet at his fingertips makes learning easier.
"With our own laptops we can just get everything right there and have everything done," Hall said.
"There really isn't anything that is off limits, there isn't anything they can't go out and learn about and peruse and find," Parry said.
And none of this would have been possible without SDN Communications "Connect South Dakota" project.
The project provides high-speed broadband access to communities across the state of South Dakota. The three year project was completed in November and Parry's classroom is reaping the benefits.
"The days of a teacher being in front of a classroom, just lecturing and the students taking notes, those are gone. It doesn't happen in the workplace like that and nor should it in the classroom," SDN marketing director Vernon Brown said.
A former Arlington High graduate himself, Brown believes Parry's classroom is one of the best examples of the new broadband being used in classrooms.
"Here in rural South Dakota, Mrs. Parry is teaching those kids that they can touch the world from Arlington South Dakota," Brown said.
Parry classes are using technology so well, she was recently mentioned in a speech by the United States Assistant Commerce Secretary.
"Mrs. Parry is one example. There are other teachers across the state who are putting that broadband connection to use to make their children in their classroom really to be able to touch the world," Brown said.
The new broadband access in rural classroom is already having a positive effect, especially in Mrs. Parry's classroom.
"She told me that every one of her students in those classrooms will go on to higher education. Would that happen? Would that be possible without learning with today's technology? Probably not," Brown said.
Part of the money used for this project was from the federal stimulus project. Between the government and $5 million matched by SDN Communications, they had a total of $25 million to put computers and broadband access into classrooms and other offices to connect the world to rural South Dakota.
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