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Korea International School goes digital with MacBooks

SEONGNAM Gyeonggi Province ― Korea International School has navigated uncharted waters by going digital to help students learn the necessary skills for college and the real world.

“One to one education is using the computer to enhance to delivery of curriculum and allowing students the ability to differentiate, to learn at their own pace and own time,” said Tim Bray, a math teacher at the school who is also the resident tech guru giving tips to fellow faculty members to help them improve their classes.

Under the program adopted five years ago, every single one of the school’s students from grades sixth through twelve now use Apple MacBooks for all curricular activities including class work. 
Students at the Korea International School study on their laptops as part of the school’s one-to-one education program. (Korea International School)
Students at the Korea International School study on their laptops as part of the school’s one-to-one education program. (Korea International School)

Students use their laptops to log on and surf the internet during classes, many of which were altered and tailored for the “one-to-one” curriculum.

Homework, for instance, may be creating their own personal blogs or connecting and interacting with students in other parts of the world online.

Students admitted they felt too attached to their MacBooks, but said the new program has made them better prepared for college.

“I think it helps us express what we learn better, they really help us experience what we are learning,” said Jane Woo, a senior at the school. “It’s important for students of today to be familiar with technology and be very, very comfortable with using technology in all sorts of situations.”

The parents were initially against the new program, partly because of the costs involved ― a MacBook costs more than $1,000, and the parents have to foot the bill ― and also because they felt their kids would become too absorbed in their laptops.

The school also was worried because it was a big risk, and a costly one since in just maintenance bills, KIS spends around 200 million won a year.

But KIS says the decision was worth it.

It also assures parents that the school is on top of what every student is accessing online through the Apple Remote Desktop program.

Some teachers, such as Steven Katz, a social studies teacher at KIS, said he has entirely digitalized his classes to stay true to one-to-one.

“I wanted to see if it really did make learning better, and I think it did, and it made my classroom management much more efficient,” he said.

KIS teachers also stressed that despite the fast pace of digitalization, their core values remain the same and they are as thirsty as ever to learn.

By Kim Ji-hyun  (jemmie@heraldcorp.com)
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