South Carolina public schools, with one computer for every seven students, need to give teachers more technology training and replace aging machines, according to two reports released Dec. 11 by the state Education Department.
Training teachers in computer technology “is a critical next step,” Education Superintendent Inez Tenenbaum said. “We’ve offered many courses and workshops over the past four years, but there’s a need for more.”
One of the reports, the South Carolina K-12 Technology Progress Report, shows where the state stands with computer technology in classrooms. The second, by KPMG Consulting, suggests where the state needs to go to become a national leader in technology in the classroom.
The progress report, which was prepared by the several state agencies and two telecommunications companies, said that while schools report one computer for every seven students, the target should be one for every three.
Just over $40 million in state money was spent last fiscal year to improve computer technology in schools, the report said. It also said all school media centers and more than half the state’s classrooms are wired to a state network and the internet. And 59 schools are using two-way video to provide courses for students in rural or less-affluent areas.
The KPMG report, meanwhile, said about a third of the personal computers in the state’s schools are below standard, defined as more than 3 years old. It encouraged the state to replace every computer after three years and concentrate in high schools where the need for new, faster computers is greatest.
The report also said 82 percent of the state’s 4,300 permanent classrooms have at least one networked computer but suggested the goal should be at least five per classroom. And it said that, while many teachers received technology training, the state needs to better assess the quality of the training and how courses are offered.