The Hanover High School students walked into their environmental science class, sat at the round black tables, and got out their class materials.
The three-ring binders, notebooks, pens, and pencils were placed out of arm’s reach. Instead, the students placed in front of themselves a laptop and a cell phone.
Teacher Jason Suter picked up a remote control on his desk. With a couple of clicks, the first question of the day appeared on a Wiffiti board, a board that allows real-time messages to appear on its white screen.
The question was, “Do you think that Apple is an environmentally friendly company?”
“Pick up your phones,” Suter said. “Text ‘yes’ using this number and ‘no’ using this one.”
Through text messaging, the students answered the question. And as the texts came in, a bar graph began to form on the Wiffiti board, showing the number and percentage of students that had answered yes and the number that said no.
“That’s us sending it right now?” one of the students asked as the bar graph continued to move with every sent text.
It is, Suter said. And it wasn’t the only piece of educational technology they would go on to use in class.
The students have been keeping environmental science blogs that they update each week. Suter’s Oct. 7 class was devoted to each student reading another’s blog, grading it, and commenting on it—creating a discussion that students could continue outside of school.
And for the most part, it was all done on the students’ own computers or digital devices.