Rural schools get major tech upgrade

VIOLA, Ill. (KWQC) - Hundreds of students are enjoying a new technology update in their schools. The idea sparking for Sherrarrd’s Instructional Technology Coach from a floppy disk he found in the technology lab a few months ago. Now, the students are on a more modern path.

Hundreds of students are enjoying a new technology update in their schools. The idea sparking for Sherrarrd’s Instructional Technology Coach from a floppy desk he found in the technology lab a few months ago. Now, the students are on a more modern path.

"There's not a student here that doesn't wanna be in this room” said Steve Miller, the I.T. Coach.

The technology lab is a room full of virtual reality goggles, computers, and games that incorporate coding and robotics into learning.

“There's so much more than it used to be, just sitting at your computer and doing your activity in an independent style. Now it's group work that translates to everything they do in everyday life,” said 4th grade teacher Carly Minch.

Students work in small groups to problem solve through various kinds of games, “the activities we have in here are never gonna work the first time you try them. So our dash and dot, our robots, our different things like that - the kids program them and hope they go that way. If it doesn't, then we talk about those problem-solving skills. How do we go about finding what went wrong, where do we go back through our steps?” continued Minch.

A big change from the previous computer lab, which Miller says hadn't been updated since the '90s.

Those at Winola Elementary School appreciate the new change, “it was not really fun because all you were just sitting at a computer doing it and last year they re-did it and everything so they got new games,” said Jaeci Leffel, a 4th grader.

Jaeci's favorite game is a robot programmable to follow a path you draw with a marker “because he can do funny things like he can dance or he can play sounds.”

Although not all kids will continue to program things like dash bots, teachers say what they learn will be valuable with whatever they choose to do: “I don't want them all to be computer programmers. If they do, that's great. But no matter what job they have, manufacturing or agriculture, there's gonna be some type of tech involved” said Miller.

The schools getting these updates are in Mercer county, Sherrard, and United school district. The 120 thousand dollars will go to get technology labs and get interactive boards in over two dozen classrooms.