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Articles: Technology

Half of school districts nationwide believe they’ve completed their 1-to-1 initiatives and the infrastructure required. (Click to enlarge)

The digital classroom is no longer a new concept—half of school districts nationwide believe they’ve completed their 1-to-1 initiatives and the infrastructure required, according to the annual Digital School Districts Survey from the Center for Digital Education, published in March.

With the modernization of E-rate and the increase in available funding for school districts, many administrators face a strategic choice when it comes to their network. Some districts may choose a managed service through a third-party vendor, while others want to keep their network managed in-house by district staff. There are pros and cons to each model and several key considerations every district should examine before making this important IT decision.

Teachers learn how to use multimedia in the classroom through networking: both in person and on social networks.

Twitter is a solid resource, says Matt Miller, a teacher and author of Ditch That Textbook. “There are some really robust, engaged communities on Twitter through certain hashtags, where teachers are sharing ideas and asking and answering questions all the time,” Miller says. “That’s been my single best source of professional learning.”

Platforms and apps that provide parents direct communication and unfiltered access to grades, schedules, school news and emergency announcements offer better access than ever before.

Teachers at Southwest High School in Jacksonville, North Carolina, allowed students to bring their smartphones to class to watch short math videos. The ‘a-ha’ moment came when the students used the phones to record each other solving math problems, and then created a repository of problem-solving videos.

State average internet adoption rates in 2014. (Click to enlarge)

Many states and schools turn to online distance education to help students access postsecondary courses or even a degree. But students nationwide have varying access to adequate broadband speeds and the financial means to maintain a strong internet connection.

The Technology for Education Consortium found that the cost for the same iPad can vary, depending on the district.

The education technology market might have become easier for district leaders to navigate, thanks in part to a new nonprofit group, Technology for Education Consortium. Leaders can share their spending limits on certain tech devices, and the consortium produces reports about pricing around the country.

Guthrie Virtual School provides state-mandated Spanish instruction to about a half-dozen remote Texas towns that couldn’t afford to hire a full-time certified teacher.

Google rejects assertions that it has violated student data privacy rules.

In December, a nonprofit digital rights group filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission alleging that Google is using its ubiquitous access to educational devices to mine student data so it can better target advertising at students.

In this objective look into a subject that has generated much debate, Ovid K. Wong and Chak Lau examine critical elements in preparing teachers and decision-makers for the tenure application process.

Old computers may not be trendy, but as school tech budgets shrink or stagnate, many administrators try to squeeze the most life out of their aging devices. Recycling and retrofitting, and hooking up to the cloud, allow districts to delay or even abandon established schedules for buying brand-new equipment.

In many partnerships that bring businesses and schools together, a private or nonprofit third party serves as a bridge to the most successful collaborations.

For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) offers extracurricular STEM activities, including an international high school robotics competition, to more than 400,000 K12 students nationwide, with mostly school-based robotics or younger LEGO League teams in 86 countries.

In January, the Jackson Public Schools became the first district in Mississippi to launch an evening high school that students attend from 2:30 to 8:30 p.m. It’s designed for students whose other commitments—such as jobs or caring for their own children or younger siblings—make traditional school hours difficult.

Gregory Firn has been a superintendent and a deputy superintendent, and has had educational leadership roles in Texas, North Carolina, Connecticut, Washington and Nevada, and overseas.

Leadership is never more critical than when creating and sustaining a data-centric learning culture, as Lane Mills advises in a white paper on how districts can access and integrate data to make informed, proactive decisions.

Leaders in Johnston County Schools in central North Carolina knew they needed to find more effective ways to help struggling students, close the achievement gap and meet their core instructional priorities. So they carefully planned a pilot program to choose the best adaptive learning system for the district’s 25,000 K8 students and their educators.

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