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With laptops on every desk, students in grades 10 through 12 are quick to engage in their schoolwork. Recent technology has opened doors for not only students, but teachers and faculty as well.

“Technology allows students to use the gifts they have in the most effective way,” Rae Niles, national professional development assistant manager for Apple Computers, said.

Niles recently switched roles from director of curriculum and technology for Sedgwick Public Schools. She now works with students and faculty from kindergarten through 12th grade, providing computers and creative curricula that enables students to better themselves and give them hope for the future.

With her one-year program, Niles graduated from Friends University with a Master of Arts in Teaching in 1994. She has always taken an interest in technology and the opportunity to learn more, she said. Having seen many great successes, Niles promotes this advanced way of learning for all ages.

However, outsiders fear dependence on computers and calculators and not enough brain usage for various assignments. The question is whether students will be able to balance the two.

“There are two kinds of educators: those who view the world through a deficit model of thinking and those who see it through an asset-based model. I choose to see the world through an asset-based model, or positive,” Niles said.

With individualized, customized instructions, students are now able to demonstrate their learning abilities on given assignments. Students shouldn’t have to learn in the same way as their parents or teachers; they can now create their own learning style, she said.

“Not all assignments offer choice, but the majority of them keep students engaged, allow for creativity, promote individualism, and seem to encourage pride,” Niles said.

She is proud of how the students realize that the introduction of technology supports them. It has boosted them with a new confidence about their dreams; thanks to technology, students who would have never considered education beyond high school are given optimism.

“The technology is the catalyst for the change. It is the ‘reason’ to do things differently,” Niles said.