Giving old tech devices a new purpose

By Kimberly Jenkins -

Logo for the Falcon Recycle for technology

Logo for the Falcon Recycle for technology

Tech products are high on almost everyone’s Christmas list this year, why not clean out all the old tech products and do something good with those old phones, tablets and touch devices, rather than just throw them in a drawer.

Ryan Stockham, technology coordinator at Minford Local Schools, can help you out with that clutter. He has found a new program that students can use and the school will be able to utilize old functional devices from the last three or four years.

Stockham said he was at an educational conference about two or three weeks ago. They had a presentation about some things Google is doing with the VR (virtual reality). There’s a particular program called Google Expeditions, which they’ve created just for education, completely free and they already have over a thousand different expeditions where students can get on, just like a virtual student field trip.

“They have a number of different things, not just going to locations, basically any major landmark in the world that you can go visit, they have something virtually set up. And, the way it works is you have a classroom of kids with these VR viewers and the most important part is a smart phone or smart device of some sort and they put those inside the viewers and the teacher will lead the expedition,” Stockham said. “While on their device, the teacher says,’ we are going to go to a location’ to the classroom and the device will take them there. The teacher can have a script they can read, if they want to, or if they don’t have full knowledge of what they are looking at. They can read the script to explain to the kids what they are doing. They can point anywhere on the screen and it guides them to look in that direction, and it guides them in the 3D world they are in, so as the kids are turning their heads in the classroom, they are actually looking around 360 degrees in every direction in the location they are visiting.

They also have times in history, it will actually have 3 photos from like Martin Luther King’s speech and they are actually looking around at everybody there, while he is speaking. they have the human cell and things like that. you name it, they’ve got it, something for every subject.”

Stockham says that even though it is really in it’s infancy, it’s amazing what they’ve already done so far, and that it is all free for schools. That, he said is the core piece of it. He says there’s lots of other things that you can do, but that’s the really big one right now, that is amazing to him and other educators is that you can do what you can do for free.

So, the big costs for the schools, right now, is if one would want, Google offers a set that can be bought, through Best Buy or some companies like that. Stockham stated that for thirty kids, it is $10,000, pretty pricey for something like that.

When Stockham got back, he tried to using some older smart phones that he had personally, and some laying around from old staff member phones and things, that were three or four years old, and they actually worked fine with the program. So he decided to donate to the program.

“I’ll donate that to the school for this program,” Stockham said. “We can take those devices, get them cleaned up and get them all up to date and everything. And then, use ones that can be put in the classroom. The devices are by far the biggest expenses, the viewers you put the phone in, are only like $20 apiece or something like that. Those devices are where all the cost is with this program.

“If we can get people to donate those to us, then there’s not a lot of costs on the school’s part for them to put the whole classroom in a set, which can be shared with teachers and kids. That’s the idea, that is what we are trying to do.”

They can donate these devices to the school, through the school secretaries plus the staff members have been made aware of this too.

“I do think this could be really educational and at the conference among the teachers that have them, they have found there are so many kids that never get to go to a beach, they never get to go visit anything out of their area. It is a way to immerse them into these worlds,” said Stockham.

He told of an example that was told at the conference. A teacher was doing a unit on oceans and she had them do a paper for the whole nine weeks, everything revolved around the ocean, whether it be a story they were reading or writing or other things. They had written these stories about visiting the ocean, and the stories just were really bad. So, they surveyed the kids and asked how many of them had ever been to the ocean and only one out of the twenty had actually ever been physically to the ocean to see it. So, they bought a VR package to go with their phones that took you into the ocean and around the ocean and things there. After they did that, they had that same group of kids write another story similar to that and they said it was amazing the difference they got, now that they had ‘been to’ and ‘seen’ things through the virtual reality, because they had experienced it. They said the papers were a level higher writing for almost all the kids. That thing that you hear about or just see a picture of, doesn’t take you there virtually.

Stockham commented, “I think it will definitely, as time goes on, be a very valuable thing that teachers can use while they are teaching.”

The world as some know it, is constantly changing due to the amount of technology being used by virtually everyone in the younger generations. This is a great way to use this technology and draw students into the world they are hearing about, by letting them experience it firsthand. Diversity among students who are not as privileged, could bring this separation closer and bridge that gap among all students in the school world.

Logo for the Falcon Recycle for technology for the Falcon Recycle for technology

By Kimberly Jenkins

Reach Kimberly Jenkins 740-353-3101 ext. 1928

Reach Kimberly Jenkins 740-353-3101 ext. 1928