Pencils and notebooks are slowly finding themselves being replaced by laptops and tablets when it comes to essential classroom supplies.

Mario Tama, Getty Images
Mario Tama, Getty Images

More and more schools districts in New Jersey are finding ways to get technology into the hands of students, and teachers are having no trouble finding ways to integrate it into their lesson plans.

"If you could imagine just the benefit that having that in class connection to the internet could mean in foreign language study, it's easy to see the benefit, as well as the physical sciences," says Frank Belluscio, Deputy Executive Director of the New Jersey School Board Association.

According to a Pew Research study conducted in February, 73 percent of Advanced Placement or National Writing Project teachers say students already use phones or tablets in the classrooms to complete assignments.

Undoubtedly the technology is something many students are already using in their daily lives, so the challenge is to get it into the classroom.

While some teachers are having students use their own personal devices, many districts in New Jersey are applying for funding and trying to find ways to get the hardware into the hands of students. However, Belluscio says cost is still a major barrier many districts face.

"Some districts have found leasing agreements as the most fiscally prudent way of approaching it, others have flat out purchased the equipment."

While there has been a lot of buzz of these new technologies in the classroom, some are worried about issues of cheating, access to inappropriate content, as well as financial inequalities amongst students.

Belluscio says it becomes an issue of strong policy from the district down to the teacher, namely getting over the mentality of confiscating cell phones on sight.

"First, you need very strong policies and very strong direction from the administration, and above all else, professional development for our teachers."

The commitment to technology is one that will only expand, says Belluscio, especially as the state adopts the Common Core Standards - which place a bigger emphasis on technology.

"The whole idea of having the access to computer devices, whether they be laptops or tablets, is going to be more critical than ever."

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