The use of technology in the classroom is not a brand new concept, but its involvement has skyrocketed over recent years with some school districts encouraging students to bring their own gadgets from home.

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Note-taking has gone from paper and pencil to screen and thumbs. Raising your hand has evolved into clicking for help.

Most districts in New Jersey use technology - laptops, tablets and other devices - regularly in their instruction, according to the state Department of Education, which stopped collecting data on the trend in 2011.

"Technology is no longer an add-on in school; it's a component of instruction," said Pat Wright, executive director of the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association. "If we're going to prepare students to be career and college ready, certainly a component of that is to be able to utilize technology as a tool for learning."

Wright noted it's a common practice today to have students answer questions through an online application so their teachers have a better idea of how well the subject matter is being understood.

"One of the major changes we've seen recently has been the use of the smaller devices - the tablets and the iPads," added Frank Belluscio, deputy executive director of the New Jersey School Boards Association.

Belluscio said tablets are also providing assistance in special education environments.

"I think we are seeing a change from the traditional classroom, which really has been in place since the late 1800s," he explained.

The 1 to 1 ratio of student versus screen has been accomplished in some districts, while many strive to get there with the help of students bringing in their personal devices.

Dave Janosz, supervisor of technology with the Northern Valley Regional High School District, said every kid needs a device to do the job of being a student today.

"It's a part of our lives," he said, noting that when educators learn to implement technology into everyday instruction, it's hard to go back to the old ways.