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Articles: Classroom Integration

Click to enlarge: Five steps districts can take to save money on edtech purchases. (Source: Foundation for Excellence in Education)

As the lines between instructional and technology budgets blur, CIOs can improve their district’s procurement procedures to get what their classrooms need from an increasingly complex edtech market.

3D printing offers multiple ways for students to get hands-on experience and to gain marketable skills before leaving high school

3D printing offers multiple ways for students to get hands-on experience and to gain marketable skills before leaving high school. Administrators must find ways to integrate the technology into existing courses or to enhance new class offerings.

Why are 3D printers so important to education now and what future trends should CIOs be aware of to ensure the technology succeeds in the classroom?

Rajeev Kulkarni

Vice president and chief product officer

3D Systems

“NMC Horizon Report 2015 K-12 Edition” aims each year to identify the leading trends in technology and education for the next half-decade.

Students in coming years will create their own educational content, 3D printing will become mainstream, and wearable technology will put more demand on school Wi-Fi networks, according to a study released in June by the New Media Consortium (NMC) and the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN).

While technology infiltrates every aspect of K12 operations, CIOs must negotiate with various vendors to ensure students and educators can make the most out of new software and hardware.

At Lawrence Public Schools in Kansas, teacher Paula Barr sits with second graders in her blended learning classroom at Quail Run Elementary School.

Widespread use of digital learning materials, an intensifying focus on achievement and the influx of digital devices into classrooms are increasing districts’ need to have some form of learning management systems (LMS), experts say.

Students at Cherokee County School District use Pearson’s WriteToLearn to help them become better writers.

As Common Core standards require students to write extensively across the curriculum, more districts are using automated assessment tools to save teachers time and give students immediate analysis.

Birmingham Public Schools use ETS’ Criterion as a learning and teaching tool. Students get immediate feedback on grammar and mechanics, as well as links to exemplary writing with detailed techniques to improve.

Some vendors have developed tech tools that will solve the challenges of teaching and assessing student writing effectively. We asked several experts to share their thoughts about writing assessment concerns and how administrators can address those issues. Here’s what they had to say:

John Williams is executive director of technology for Metro-Nashville Public Schools.

When your job is to manage the IT infrastructure for more than 83,000 students, across 150 schools, who use more than 340 different pieces of education software, it would not be too surprising to be singing the blues.

But in Music City—Nashville—our district is singing up-tempo and thriving even as we enter year two of a sweeping technology initiative to equip all students for 21st century learning and future colleges and careers.

In the middle school STEM lab at New Canaan Public Schools in Connecticut, students frequently choose to learn with flight simulators rather than 3D printers, video games and other technological options.

“It’s definitely our most popular tool,” says Vivian Birdsall, New Canaan’s middle school STEM teacher. “Not only do the flight simulations expose our students to aviation, they’re so exciting and fun that our students often don’t realize how much they’re learning from them.”

The percent of school IT leaders who say they are using different cloud services has increased in the past year, according to CoSN’s 2015 “K-12 IT Leadership Survey.”

A large majority of district technology leaders report moving some crucial IT services to the cloud this year, according to a March report from the Consortium of School Networking (CoSN).

More than 65 percent of IT leaders say their district now uses productivity tools such as Google Apps for Education that run through the cloud—a rapid increase over last year, when only 10 percent reported using these services, the 2015 “K-12 IT Leadership Survey Report” found.

Landlines are out and internet-based phones are in for many schools this year, as the modernized E-rate program begins scaling back funds for traditional phone service.

Discount rates for long-distance calling, cell phones and other services will drop by 20 percent every year starting this year, as determined in the July 2014 E-rate Modernization Order adopted by the FCC. E-rate funds for email, web hosting, paging and phone directory assistance were completely eliminated this year.

Nine out of 10 students recognize the importance of developing technology skills early to ensure they are prepared to enter the workforce, according to new research published by CompTIA, an information technology industry association.

The September 2014 survey of 1,000 middle school students further found that most rate their tech skills as average or above. In the study—“The Changing Classroom: Perspectives from Students and Educators on the Role of Technology”—students also said they wanted more instruction in the following:

In the Bonneville Joint School District in Idaho Falls, Idaho, a Summit Hills Elementary School student, right, takes a speech/language therapy class with therapist Claire Plowgian, above.

More districts now deliver speech and occupational therapy online. It’s a solution for staffing shortages, especially in less populated areas, when therapists can provide therapy, participate in IEP meetings and handle other tasks remotely.

Allan F. Daily High School students in Glendale USD take part in a total computer rebuild, used as a student-led training session. A student demonstrates with his classmates how to replace the CPU chip.

Students trained in IT support are providing teachers with Johnny-on-the-spot resources and bolstering the responsiveness of districts’ lean tech staffs. The eager students provide districts with an inexpensive and much-needed tech resource; and the students gain experience, new skills, and confidence.

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