WIESBADEN, Germany — Military children will be learning at the speed of light in the DODDS classrooms of the future, according to school officials.

During an interview Tuesday in Wiesbaden, Dr. Joe Tafoya, the Department of Defense Education Activity director, explained how technology would be taking over many traditional classrooms. Tafoya, whose headquarters office is in Arlington, Va., was attending the Department of Defense Dependents Schools’ principals conference in Wiesbaden.

Tafoya said more technology will be entering DODDS classrooms. He sees paperless classrooms, where even the textbooks are no longer bound volumes, but slim CD-ROMs, and children each have their own computer terminals to work from.

“This is not to say that books will go out of fashion,” Tafoya said.

“We can use technology as a tool.”

Tafoya, who said small computer stations currently cost about $500 to set up, added he doesn’t see this total turn to technology in DODDS classrooms for 10 to 15 years.

While at the weeklong conference, which ends Friday, Tafoya found out what European principals are doing well and some of the issues they have.

The conference includes training sessions, updates on proposals and networking with colleagues not often seen because of the vast distances between Department of Defense schools.

Some of the conference’s initiatives this year focus on fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-graders and a middle school study to ensure children in these grades are working off the same material, he said.

“We’ve put a lot of time and money into high schools and early childhood reading programs,” said Tafoya, explaining why more emphasis was needed now on the middle grades.

Going along with the technology theme, this year’s conference is paperless, Tafoya said. Principals are using computers and mobile data sticks during sessions and can use the data sticks to copy any information they want to keep.

During his weeklong visit to Europe, Tafoya also spoke at the assistant principals conference last week, also held in Wiesbaden, and then attended several DODDS sports events.

DODEA operates 222 public schools in 15 districts in 13 foreign countries, seven states, Guam and Puerto Rico, according to its Web site. All schools within DODEA are fully accredited by U.S. accreditation agencies.

Children of enlisted military personnel represent 85 percent of the total enrollment in DODEA schools.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now