OUR VIEW: Keep eyes open for ‘big ideas’

By Observer editorial May 16, 2014 02:22 pm

Sometimes in little chance encounters big things happen.

Such was the case when in a parent-teacher conference in Elgin, Brock Eckstein, the parent, met with Angie Hallgarth, the first-grade teacher. Hallgarth happened to mention the need for iPads for her students.

That serendipitous moment sparked Eckstein into action, and thanks to a lot of generous support from community members and businesses, and good connections on Eckstein’s part, the result is 20 more iPads for next year’s kindergarten class at Stella Mayfield Elementary School.

Eventually, the project could amount to much more. Eckstein hopes to start by providing iPads to all kindergarten and first-grade students and eventually make it so all students from kindergarten through fifth grade have iPads.

Times are changing. To keep up with today’s world requires more than just books, chalkboards and good old-fashioned elbow grease. Students from throughout Northeast Oregon need to take advantage of the latest technological innovations to be prepared to surviving and thriving in the 21st century. 

And students can’t start too soon.

It’s an amazing world opening up for today’s youth. According to the Science of Learning Blog, iPads are useful in many ways. iPads are more portable and useful than traditional computers, and make it so students don’t have to carry a big backpack of books. iPads are compatible with online learning and teaching platforms. Students learn to solve problems, not only educational but those related to information technology. iPads help eliminate paperwork and contribute to a better environment. iPads also give students greater portability and connectivity and ultimately save the school computer costs.

Through iPads, a wide world of knowledge is at students’ fingertips, not only at school but at home and wherever they travel. Libraries, of course, are still important, but each student now can carry in their hands an incredibly portable library of information and resources that make learning more fun and productive.

Here’s a shout out to the people and businesses who have helped launch this effort, and the ones who will help in the future to make sure the project comes to fruition.

And here’s to similar projects going on in other towns throughout Northeast Oregon. Our students deserve to have a first-rate education, whether they are in the nation’s big cities, or in small town Oregon, and keeping up with technological innovation can make that happen.

Ideas are born one conversation at a time, such as that between Eckstein and Hallgarth. It’s important to keep our eyes and ears open to big ideas that may spring up in the most humble of settings.