Making a Difference:
KET and Classroom Technology


Using technology, we get away from the traditional lecture. We need to make it more interactive for them, where they’ve got control of what they’re learning, and what they’re using to learn.

Jeff Fletcher

Teacher, Fairview High School, Ashland

Don’t tell Fairview High School social studies teacher Jeff Fletcher that technology is the future.

“Technology is the present,” maintains Fletcher, who teaches in the small independent district located in Ashland. “And I believe that if we’re still saying it’s the future, we’ve missed the boat someplace. It’s the here and now.”

Even though Fletcher, who arranges his classroom so that his students are corralled, U-shaped, around his desk, admits he’s a little mystified by the iPhone, he knows that using computers comes naturally to his teenagers, who carry today’s powerful new smartphones as casually as their binders or backpacks.

“For these students, the future is already in their pocket,” he said. “They’re using it every day, whether it be texting, e-mail, online shopping. It’s right in the palm of their hands. It kind of amazes me that they’ve got that kind of power.”

With that in mind, Fletcher made up his mind to turn his students loose on the iMac computer—with the help of KET EncycloMedia and KET Education Consultant Missi Baker—to create visual “term papers.”

But getting from Point A to Point B, as often is the case in life, took a little longer than expected. “It’s been a two-way learning year,” he recalls with a smile.

It all started last summer, when Fletcher set out to complete the educational requirements for his Rank II certification, coupling economics instruction and expanding his use of technology in the classroom. He decided to both learn—and teach—his students how to make an iMovie using KET EncycloMedia video clips to tell a story.

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“The kids figured out a lot of it. You have to feed them a little more rope, let them have at it.” And they got twice as much bang for the buck, he says—they became versed in new technology while absorbing the subject matter for their reports.

The early efforts were, naturally enough, fairly bare-bones. But by the end of the school year, students were turning in multimedia presentations that blended music, narration, still photographs, and videos with ease.

“It’s one thing for a teacher to get up in front of a classroom and tell them things—or hand them a textbook that they may or may not read,” Fletcher notes, as a student’s iMovie on economic forces at work in Kentucky unfolds before him.

“But with this they take the information, show it, and use their own words and in their own way to show what the concept means—well, that’s a different, more effective way of getting through to them,” he said.

“Using technology, we get away from the traditional lecture. We need to make it more interactive for them, where they’ve got control of what they’re learning, and what they’re using to learn. And then, you’ve got a chance of having a good percentage of them actually grasping the concept. It’s win-win.”