Area students show Nevada Legislature importance of digital education | NevadaAppeal.com

Area students show Nevada Legislature importance of digital education

Taking part in Digital Learning Day at the Legislature on Wednesday are Eagle Valley Middle School students Millie Arroyo, Alana Zaragoza and Samantha Castaneda.
Brad Coman/Nevada Appeal |

Nevada’s education is rapidly transforming with technology, and students from three middle schools showed their appreciation for it on the Senate floor Wednesday by demonstrating their skills with Chromebooks, in correlation with the Nevada Ready 21 initiative.

During “Digital Learning Day,” Carson Middle School, Churchill County Middle School, and Eagle Valley Middle School displayed each of their projects developed with Chromebooks – laptops programmed and designed by Google.

CTL Corp., a private company based in Oregon, partnered with the program and provides laptops to participating schools with 24-hour access.

CMS students did a live newscast and streamed it through their website, CMNewz. Churchill County demonstrated a focus on digital citizenship and responsibility, while Eagle Valley Middle School presented a seminar on how to read and write for Google Chrome.

CMS student Amelia Graul said the newscast project inspired her to pursue a career in news producing and video editing.

“I love to edit videos,” she said. “It’s awesome to be here at the Legislature and show what we can do with our Chromebooks.”

Nevada Ready 21 provides students with an education that supports an engaging learning environment of 21st-century skills, as the state is thriving with technology careers. The program is distributed in 20 schools statewide as of last year, thanks to the Nevada Commission on Education Technology. A state general fund of $20 million supported the program, which includes coaches to help lead students.

LeAnn Morris, lead technology integration specialist of Carson City School District, said it’s important for participating students to show legislators how the program benefits education.

“Once students get to middle school, they become disengaged with learning,” she said. “That’s why Nevada Ready 21 is primarily focused on those students. But it’s not about the devices; it’s about the learning experience of what they can do with those devices.”

To support that process, three middle school students sat with senators during a session.

“It’s something to support for all of our schools,” said Sarai Jauregui, student at EVMS. “It’s an investment for the American future.”

“This is an opportunity of a lifetime to represent this program,” said Austin Ramirez of CMS. “Our skills help out the community and inspire others.”

Morris said the district originally asked for $50 million and is asking legislators to consider the amount again to add more schools to the program.

In a study conducted by Alliance for Excellent Education and Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education, technology produces a significant gain in student achievement and engagement, especially among at-risk students.

And with the rise of technology giants in Nevada, such as Tesla and Panasonic, the program is creating an innovation for the state, said Mike Mahanay, chief marketing officer of CTL.

“Very few states are sponsored with us for this kind of initiative,” he said. “Large districts purchase equipment and rarely use them. But Nevada is on the forefront and taking technology education at a holistic approach.”

CMS Computer Instructor Rob Hostler fully supports the Nevada Ready 21 program, as his students created a news website and social media accounts for the school using Chromebooks.

“We want to set up a full-on newsroom,” he said. “We could use a newsdesk and camera, even if they’re donations. The projects we’re working on are growing into perfection.”

Raymond Medeiros, network engineer of Carson City School District, said he hopes the program will help support future topics of education in legislative sessions.

“Extending this will put students in charge of what they’re learning,” he said. “The more we expose it, the more they can absorb. In college and careers, you need these 21st-century skills. It gives them a way to adapt learning in the digital world with resources they need, with low management systems, like Chromebooks.”

That’s the reason why Digital Learning Day was held at the Legislature: to promote how technology is preparing students for their future.

“This learning process is something pivotal for legislators to see,” said David White, chair of the Nevada Commission on Educational Technology. “Most of us view these kind of devices for personal use, but technology has impacted English language learners and those with certain needs. It’s not about changing the curriculum; even though it’s a different learning technique, it’s important for our legislators to see this transition with students first-hand.”