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Articles: Classroom Integration

Students at Lewis and Clark High School in the Vancouver, Wash., work in small groups as part of their typical school day. 

School administrators overwhelmed by the idea of blended learning need not fear: many districts have successfully implemented one of four models now widely accepted in K12 education. Even more encouraging, some of these schools are seeing increased achievement, lower dropout rates, and other positive results.

Education expert Will Richardson says schools must teach students to be successful learners in a world of information.

In his new book, Will Richardson says schools aren't keeping up the tech that drives today's students.

Innovative and progressive blended learning strategies are being implemented in school districts across the United States. What started as an alternative to face-to-face instruction, blended learning programs have provided students the opportunity to have more control of their learning. Research by the Innosight Institute found that in 2000, roughly 45,000 K12 students took an online course and, by 2010, over 4 million students were participating in some kind of formal online learning program.

Teachers are increasingly incorporating videos from YouTube’s education channel into classroom lessons.

Districts are dropping bans on YouTube and allowing students and teachers access to the site’s educational videos. Paving the way in this shift in policy are large districts like Chicago and Broward County, Fla.

Principals, superintendents, and district CIOs are increasingly becoming the decision-makers for purchasing school apps, according to a new survey.

New Tech High students, with teacher facilitators Christie and Tom Wolf, second and third from left, examine vines in the Copia demonstration gardens in a viticulture project.

A bank in Albuquerque, N.M., had a limited budget to make one of its branches more environmentally sustainable, so students at the local ACE (Architecture, Construction, and Engineering) Leadership High School rolled up their sleeves and went to work. They searched websites for green design options, consulted with an engineer, and used spreadsheets to compare potential costs and energy savings.

At Batavia Public Schools in Illinois, administrators gather with CIO Anton Inglese. From left to right, Kris Mon, assistant superintendent of finance; Superintendent Lisa Hichens, Inglese, and Steve Pearce, assistant superintendent for human resources.

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Just five years ago, a student information system was used to take attendance and add or change grades. The tech director chose one, installed it and, in about two minutes, showed teachers how to use it.

Now, “it’s a portal for teachers to send assignments and for parents, students, and teachers to communicate with each other,” says Melissa Tebbenkamp, director of instructional technology at Raytown Quality Schools in Missouri.

The shift in CIO responsibilities has also trickled down to the rest of the tech team. No longer is it enough to be knowledgeable in computers. IT employees must have strong people skills as well. Here’s what CIOs said they look for:

Districts that don’t have a full time chief technology officer may have a harder time keeping up with E-rate modernization and the shift to online testing, technology experts say.

Hundreds of educators are pressing for increased funding for E-rate, the government program that connects schools and libraries to the internet—especially important, given Common Core requirements for online assessment.

Edgenuity's iPad software allows educators in Henry County Schools to create customizable math content.

A new flexbooks program will be implemented this fall in math classrooms across a suburban Atlanta school district to keep up with changing state requirements and reduce textbook costs.

Henry County Schools is using Edgenuity software on newly purchased iPads in its math classrooms, nicknaming the program “flexbooks” because teachers and administrators will have the flexibility to create customizable math content for each classroom and student, says Assistant Superintendent Aaryn Schmuhl. Parents will also have access to the content online so they can help students with homework.

A student teaches at a Saturday AspireIT program at Hodges University in Florida.

A new pilot program aims to address the lack of women in technology fields by starting early—giving more middle school students a deeper knowledge of computing.

The AspireIT program, from the nonprofit National Center for Women & Information Technology, pairs female high school and college students with K12 education organizations, such as ISTE and The College Board, to run computing outreach programs for middle school girls. The first program launched in June.

Districts may have more affordable access to broadband internet service as early as fall 2014, thanks to an FCC proposal to reform the federal E-rate program that connects schools and public libraries to the internet. The proposal marks a step forward for President Barack Obama’s ConnectED initiative to bring high-speed internet access to 99 percent of U.S. students within five years.

Elementary school students from Pulaski Community School District in Wisconsin learn about photography with iPads during summer school.

Visit the classrooms of Burlington High School in the Burlington (Mass.) Public School District and you’ll see the school’s two-year-old 1-to-1 iPad initiative in action. Some students might be taking notes using Evernote, rather than pen and paper. Others may be translating and recording first-aid terms for a Spanish lesson. A music class could be rehearsing with the Garage Band app.

Some of the school districts adopting online Common Core assessments to measure academic achievement in 2014-2015 plan to develop their own tests.

In a survey released by Enterasys, a company specializing in wireless systems, 42 percent of schools plan to develop their own tests, while 55 percent of schools are likely to work with the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) or the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC).