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Articles: Technology

R.J. Gravel (@rjgravel) is the director of instructional technology for Johnsburg School District 12, in Johnsburg, IL.

As more school leaders adopt cloud-based technology to support educator and student achievement, the need for efficient processes to run student and teacher accounts increases.

In the past, printed instructional materials would be received, sorted, labeled and distributed to classrooms. Materials traveled from the office to the teacher, then from the educator to the student. But for cloud-based materials, the distribution process looks quite different.

School districts will make their biggest tech investments in tablets and WiFi in 2015. (Click to enlarge chart)

Computing devices embedded in jewelry and glasses. Microchips tattooed into skin and sewn into clothing. In one form or another, devices that gather data without any help from the user will slowly infiltrate districts in 2015. In fact, the number of people with a wearable computing device will more than triple this year.

Authors Michael Horn and Heather Staker say culture is crucial to innovation in schools.

Blended learning is poised to transform education as we know it. We know the what and the why, but it’s not often we learn how. In their book, Blended, Using Disruptive Innovation to Improve Schools, Michael Horn and Heather Staker lay out the components of successful blended learning programs, and challenge readers to create a culture that can make these innovations succeed.

When it comes to instruction, new learning standards like the Common Core and technology will get the most attention in 2015. (Click to enlarge chart)

Exciting advancements are on the horizon for classrooms in 2015. While they sound technical, the biggest changes aren’t going to be driven by an app, a computer program or a new kind of tablet—they will come from new theories about how to engage both students and teachers in the classroom.

Common Core supporter Sonja Santelises, a vice president at the Education Trust, says political uncertainty over the standards could destabilize classrooms.

Praised and pilloried at both ends of the political spectrum, the Common Core State Standards—and the years-long effort to establish national benchmarks for student learning—will pass a crucial milestone in 2015, when 11.5 million American schoolchildren finally tackle Common Core-linked math and English tests.

DA is proud to present the 2014 Readers’ Choice Top 100 Products.

Continuing to recognize the best of the best, the editors of District Administration magazine are proud to present this year’s 2014 Readers’ Choice Top 100 Products, which were selected from more than 2,400 unique nominations. Up from 1,800 nominations in 2013, this is yet another record-breaking year.

A media specialist in the Cherry Hills Christian Schools in Colorado helps a student with a lesson. The district combined an MDM solution with district-owned iPads for student learning.

Whether devices are tablets or laptops, or owned by the school or the student, they all require IT support. Recent support developments include bundling digital learning applications and the physical device with the cost of mobile device management (MDM) software.

Scott McLeod is the author of the popular “Dangerously Irrelevant” blog.

A photo on Scott McLeod’s popular “Dangerously Irrelevant” blog carries the caption, “We’re so busy doing 20th century teaching, we don’t have time to initiate 21st century learning.” McLeod, an associate professor of educational leadership, is concerned that an education system that doesn’t embrace technology won't prepare students to compete in the knowledge-based economy.

Timothy Purnell is superintendent and Timothy Teehan is academic achievement officer for Somerville Public Schools.

Massachusetts has led the nation with the top National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores for the fifth consecutive time on fourth- and eighth-grade reading and mathematics assessments.

While we realize that unknown variables are part of the equation, it was this statistical preeminence that led us to send a team from Somerville Public Schools in New Jersey to the Northbridge School District in Massachusetts to investigate instructional practices.

When students use technology in the classroom, every keystroke creates a trail of digital information.

States are ramping up student data privacy laws, with lawmakers in the 2014 legislative cycle passing 30 of 120 proposed bills aimed at protecting personal information.

The most comprehensive law was passed in California in September. It prohibits educational sites, apps and cloud services from selling or disclosing students’ personal information. The data also cannot be used to target advertising to students.

Twitter has become the new education conference—and it’s in session all day, every day of the year, some educators now say.

Principals, teachers, tech experts and other educators have created dozens of robust, professional learning networks—also called Twitter chats—to connect with each other and share solutions to common challenges.

No more snow days? Online instruction is replacing snow days in a growing number of school districts.

Sledding hills across the country may be a bit quieter this winter as snowstorms no longer mean a break from schoolwork for some students. An increasing number of districts are using e-learning to keep class in session during bad weather and to meet the required number of instruction days without having to add makeups to the calendar.

Students in all grade levels have been using robotics in the classroom at Fayette County Schools in Kentucky.

Many districts are charging up their K12 STEM courses with the use of robotics. The clear benefits of robotics are increased student engagement and collaboration—but there’s more.

At Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools, learning technology department members Jason Bihler and David Bassett work on a server with 7,000 wireless access points.
A Boone Elementary School student in the Kansas City Schools in Missouri, above, does school work through Pearson SuccessMaker. Fees for software licenses often vary.

The move toward personalized learning and the ability to deliver resources via the cloud are transforming the way districts purchase digital content for math, reading and other parts of the curriculum. As this landscape changes, district also are spending more on digital resources.

Mike Ribble is technology director of Manhattan-Ogden School District in Kansas. He is also an international author and speaker on digital citizenship.

Technology has provided administrators with some great opportunities for communication and data analysis, but for our students it means so much more.

To help our students, we need to show that with all these opportunities come responsibilities. All administrators have read, or lived through, instances of cyberbullying, sexting and even suicide that have come from the misuse of technology.