Craig Badura calls it the second Industrial Revolution. "Often times we're used to that Industrial Revolution-style of learning from many years ago of everything's in straight rows and the classrooms are quiet, but we have to change that and with the integration of technology we can be able to do some of those things."
That kind of thinking has several central Nebraska school districts putting smart devices in the curriculum. As the integration specialist for Aurora Public Schools, Badura helped the district bring in an iPad for more than 1,200 students in K-12 a year ago.
"Students right now are leading the way in regards to technology. It's a big part of their lives, it's saturated their lives. So now we have to get into that next level of higher-order thinking skills and see how it's applicable to leading them to be 21st century learners."
"In life you're not always going to have pencil and paper," said Aurora High School senior Sierra Hoselton. "You're going to have to use technology you've never used before, so I think this is a really good tool for us."
Gibbon Public Schools are a few months into integration for grades 7-12. "We wanted to create problem solvers for our community," said Gibbon Public Integration Specialist Deanna Stall. "We want the students to have as many resources as they can at their fingertips. I think the iPads have done that for them."
"Telegami" is one app being used in classrooms for presentations. Students can customize everything from the background to their own personal characters and what they say. It's just one of the countless easy tools teachers are using to boost students creativity.
Still, technology can be tricky. For teachers and students, young or old, using smart devices in education is about patience and growth. "Oh, I've learned a ton," said Aurora High Spanish teacher Kara McNeese. "This has really made my teaching go above and beyond. I want it to be exciting for my kids. I want to meet them where they are. If they don't know how to use the technology, then we're behind. It's kept me in the game."
"You really meet people at they level they are," Stall said. "You go with their teaching style and you want to enhance everything that you do and that's my goal for my teachers at Gibbon."
Badura and Stall both believe integration will be a reality in nearly every school soon. However, that doesn't mean technology is the only teacher in the equation.
"You can be too redundant with something in your classroom and I'm a believer that really, the best app in the classroom is an engaging teacher," said Badura. "Twenty years from now you're going to get out of school and you're going to say, I remember Mr. Jones. He was an awesome teacher. You're not going to say I remember him because he used a certain app in his classroom."