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Articles: Technology

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Richland (Wash.) School District No. 400, which has 15 schools, more than 11,000 students, and 1,400 employees, was challenged with an aging desktop infrastructure and limited financial resources from which to replace or replenish it. “Many of our machines were eight to 10 years old and running Windows 2000, which had reached its end of life,” says the district’s Executive Director of Information Technology Michael Leseberg.

STEM education is moving out of classrooms and onto smartphones, with a new mobile platform called Active Explorer that aims to inspire student interest in the sciences. The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) partnered with Qualcomm’s Wireless Reach initiative and mobile virtual network operator Kajeet to create the program.

As of 2017, textbooks should be a thing of the past, according to a report, “Out of Print: Reimagining the K-12 Textbook in a Digital Age,” released by the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) in September. The report recommends that states and districts begin making the shift from print to digital instructional materials with the next major textbook adoption cycle, completing the transition within the next five years.

A holistic view of a student’s progress is now available, with help from the U.S. Department of Education. eScholar myTrack is the first commercially available collaborative platform in which administrators, teachers, support staff, students, and parents can see an individualized, holistic view of a student’s progress across their entire education career. myTrack uses data from the MyData Button, a U.S. DOE-facilitated industry movement encouraging schools and software vendors to allow students to download their own data to create a personal learning profile.

Keene, N.H., is a small New England town best known as home to Keene State College, Antioch College of New England, and a Guinness world record-setting fall pumpkin festival for the most-lit jack-o-lanterns in one place.

But Keene School District SAU 29 wants to be known for its own accolades—top-tier technology—and it’s trying to achieve that by replacing teachers’ desktop computers with iPads and piloting them as replacement textbooks in some classes as Keene explores digital instruction, and moves toward the “electronic book bag” experts say is on the horizon.

For the first time, administrators nationwide can access and compare state education and technology policies in one place. The State Education Policy Center (SEPC) is a unique database that provides up-to-date information on state education and technology policies and practices to inform school reform and improvement efforts. The database launched in October, and was curated by the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA), a national member association of educational technology leaders.

Odvard Egil DyrliSince participants in the District Administration community are the most informed consumers in K12 education, it is with great pleasure that we announce their selections for the 2012 Readers’ Choice Top 100 Products in this issue. DA reaches school superintendents and other key executives in virtually every district in the United States, and no one is better qualified to comment on district spending options.

With the rapid growth of high-definition color video and multimedia images for instructional applications in classrooms and schools, comparing the delivery quality of projectors is of pivotal importance. While the 3LCD company has long maintained the superiority of its three-chip projector design to deliver clear and vibrant color, until recently, there were no standardized ways to measure and compare color performance. Although school buyers could compare projector ratings by “white light output,” or brightness, rating color quality was a different story.

The second annual Follett Challenge encourages educators to align their curriculum to teach 21st century learning skills—and is offering double the prize money as last year to those who do. Educators from all departments in schools can enter to demonstrate how their programs develop critical thinking, communication, creativity, and collaboration between students and among educators in a 21st century setting, no matter the resources available.

An East Leyden High School student selects a Chromebook from a charging cart. With Chromebooks, students can work on any device in any class period and access their work from anywhere, including from the Chrome browser installed on a home computer.

For students of Leyden High School District 212, two miles from O’Hare Airport in Illinois, Aug. 14, 2012 felt more like their birthday than the first day of school. The district, comprising East and West Leyden high schools, realized its long-planned hope of providing a computing device to every student and gave out 3,500 new Google Chromebooks.

Five years ago, a pair of science teachers at Woodland Park (Colo.) High School turned their pedagogical approach upside down. Rather than stand up in front of the classroom, Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams sent their respective students home with videos of themselves lecturing. And rather than assigning traditional homework, work that most students could get tripped up on if they are not sure about a certain topic, the teachers gave students time in class—with their close supervision and help—to put their learning into practice.

We predict that within five years, Eastern Michigan University, Western Michigan University, Central Michigan University and Northern Michigan University will all be closed down—or at least they won’t be doing business as they are now. Maybe some of their special programs, such as Western Michigan’s eCommerce Technology program and Eastern Michigan’s Judaica program, may continue to exist in some format, but the costs involved in getting a degree from such institutions simply do not justify the benefits.

Classrooms, libraries, and labs used to be the only spaces where students spent their time. Wireless connections, laptops and project learning have changed that, and VMDO Architects has explored opportunities in buildings and in the landscape. Above, students at John Handley High School in Winchester (Va.) Public Schools gather in the newly renovated math/science wing.

Staying apace of rapidly evolving technologies and the innovative practices they enable remains a major challenge for school and district leaders concerned with keeping students on the upside of an expanding digital divide. As digital innovations emerge that require continuous upgrading of technological infrastructure, hardware and software, as well as training school personnel, district administrators are being called on to be more creative and strategic than ever.

In 2008, long before “bring your own device” was a buzz term, administrators at Marion County (Fla.) Public Schools (MCPS) were looking for an alternative to a one-to-one laptop program. Scott Hansen, chief information officer, says that one-to-one just wasn’t feasible for the 42,000-student district, so administrators considered other options.

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