Learning faster, more creatively with technology

By Gareth Robinson

The following were remarks made at the release of “Education Evolving: Maine’s Plan for Putting Learners First” on Jan. 17, 2012, at the Capital Area Technical Center in Augusta.

Gareth Robinson stands at a podium delivering remarks during the release of Maine's strategic plan for education.
Gareth Robinson

Good morning.

My name is Gareth Robinson and I am an eighth grader at Auburn Middle School. I’d like to talk about how I use technology in my education.

I’ve been using technology for as long as I can remember, because we have quite a lot of it at my house. I’ve been helping my teachers with technology since I was in kindergarten, when I helped my principal burn a CD.

When I was in fourth grade I went to England and Scotland with my family. At the time, we had an assignment to read a historical fiction book and do a project about it. With the help of a librarian, I was able to find a book about Robert the Bruce. My dad helped me research the history and while we were in the U.K. we visited many of the places mentioned in the book. I took lots of pictures and put together a digital slideshow for my project.

Another great memory from that trip was when I spent the day at my cousin’s school in England and we were able to Skype in to my class in Auburn. My friends were surprised to see the English students in their school uniforms, and the English kids were surprised to see all the snow in Auburn.

One of my hobbies is playing guitar. I’ve only had a few actual face-to-face lessons with another guitarist, but I’ve spent a lot of time learning to play songs using YouTube. Being able to keep my MLTI laptop over the summer gave me lots of time to work on this, as well as putting together skateboarding videos.

This year we had a project in Social Studies where we had to make a newscast about the Battle of Bunker Hill. My group researched the battle online and then used Flipcams with iMovie and went out onto the school field to re-enact it, along with costumes and musket fire sound effects.

I wish that we could be given more options to use technology on school work. Though we already use it a lot, it frustrates me when some teachers don’t allow me to use it when I can imagine ways that it could be helpful. I wouldn’t want to go to school without technology. In fact, I can’t imagine what that would be like.

I can work faster and more creatively with technology and can share my work with my friends when we work together, even when we’re not actually in school. I’m very happy we live in Maine because having my own MLTI laptop has really allowed me to do some great things since I got to middle school. Having it be my laptop instead of one I share, or a computer at home that I get to use is important because I get to keep my stuff the way that makes sense to me, and I can use it whenever I need to.

As you can see, I am using my iPhone to give this speech. It is with me almost 24
hours a day (my parents require that I sleep sometimes, and teachers make weird rules about not bringing it to the bathroom with me).

Technology is a key aspect of life in the 21st century that I don’t feel I can do without. I can balance it with old-fashioned ways to do things. I can use a map and compass just as well as a GPS app if I get lost when I’m hiking. When I work on my art, I use traditional media and hardly ever use technology.

But in this day and age, for just about everything else to do with learning, if I have a choice, I’d rather be clicking!

Gareth Robinson is an eighth grader at Auburn Middle School.

One thought on “Learning faster, more creatively with technology

  1. It is wonderful that this young man has so much technology at school and at home, but I am concerned about the students who don’t have access to the same level of technology at home and are not allowed to take their laptops home. This seems to be increasing the gap between the “haves” and the “have-nots.” I would love to see more support to make it possible for ALL students to have similar opportunities to access technology.

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