Scott McLeod

Scott McLeod, director of the Center for the Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education at Iowa State University, speaks Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2011, in Bettendorf to community members and educators. (Photo by Rashah McChesney/Quad-City Times)

As students filed out of Bettendorf High School, educators and community members filed in Tuesday night to learn about educational technology and the changing face of teaching and learning.

About 50 people attended a community forum hosted by Scott McLeod, an assistant professor of educational leadership at the University of Kentucky and director of the Center for the Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education at Iowa State University.

During his presentation, he used his laptop and iPad to bombard audience members with websites that use crowd sourcing and educational applications designed to make education interactive.

The Bettendorf district is researching the possibility of a one-laptop-per student program at the high school. The district also is piloting an Android tablet called “The Transformer” at the high school level.

Cathy Ahrens, a government and history teacher, will use the tablet in her classes this year. She said while she was concerned that the implementation was going to be difficult, she is excited about the possibilities.

She said McLeod’s presentation gave her some ideas about resources that she can use to make her program successful and how she could better connect with students.

“We’re going to learn, at least with my little window on the student body, what their needs are what their demands are, what their attitudes are. And then we’re going to get feedback on the students and then at the end we’re going to say, ‘Well, how does this implementation change your attitudes,’” Ahrens said.

Michael Ryan, a project manager for a telecommunications system company and the parent of a Bettendorf second-grade student, said he came to McLeod’s presentation to find out what the district was considering.

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“I wanted to make sure he was on the right track,” Ryan said. “I agree with him that higher order thinking skills are the correct skill set to train students, but I’m not entirely sure that learning those skills need to be technology based.”

Ryan said his concern was that the district would spend money on a program that wouldn’t work.

“I don’t want to see anyone throw all sorts of money at technology and hope that it solves everything,” he said.

Marcia Hartman, director of technology for the district, said district representatives have visited several large school districts to find out how to bring technology into the classroom and will continue to do so over the course of the next year.

Several people at the community forum asked about the cost of bringing laptops and tablets into the classroom.

McLeod said he often hears money questions when he gives his presentations.

“We talk a lot about the cost of doing this but we don’t talk about the cost of not doing this,” McLeod said.