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Feature for District CIO

Geographic information systems data, or GIS, is making districts smarter about everything from safe walking routes to enrollment. A geographic data analysis program, developed by GuideK12, lets schools pinpoint students’ homes to determine the safest routes for large groups of kids walking from the same neighborhood.

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.

School districts with social media policies unanimously prohibit the online sharing of student information and data, such as test scores, as well as information on other district personnel.

It probably won’t be long before you hear about the next disturbing incident of a teacher or other school employee contacting a student inappropriately on social media. It might involve inappropriate postings on a personal Facebook page, ill-advised texting with students, or a highly public verbal attack on colleagues or supervisors.

Students in the Game On Project at the University of Michigan used the game Minecraft for a procedural writing project

Highlights from ISTE, K12’s biggest ed-tech conference

Open content, electronic textbooks, personalized learning, cloud technology and learning analytics are emerging technologies that K12 administrators will integrate into schools over the next few years, according to the New Media Consortium’s Horizon Report on tech trends.

In addition, the report, which was released in June, predicts that within five years schools will be using even more far-out technology, including virtual labs, wearable technology, 3D printers and “augmented reality.”

With so many cloud options, district CIOs should push vendors for details about their security and privacy services. “With the cloud, you have to ask big questions,” says Taiye Lambo, founder of CloudeAssurance. He suggests that CIOs assess three major security areas: confidentiality, integrity, and availability.

Cloud computing is taking K12 by storm with fully 90 percent of K12 institutions relying on or implementing cloud technology in 2012, according to the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN). District CIOs are under increased pressure to cut costs and keep up with the latest technological trends, and implementing the cloud is an easy fix.

Imagine access to your district’s email system on mobile devices tripled over two weeks. This is exactly what Deb Karcher, CIO of Miami Dade Public Schools and her team faced after Christmas 2012. “Santa Syndrome,” a term coined by Karcher, resulted in the 50,000 users accessing the email system on personal devices before winter break jumping to 150,000 when the schools reopened after the holidays. Fortunately, the district has plenty of bandwidth to support such an influx to their enterprise applications, including email. 

In the move to 1:1 computing, school district leaders are increasingly looking for alternatives to traditional PCs and laptops, and for many districts, the go-to device is the iPad. But now, for a growing roster of Apple competitors, the time has come to give the iPad a run for its money.

Forsyth County kids

The Partnership for the Assessment of College and Career Readiness (PARCC) and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SMARTER Balanced) are developing the next generation of assessment tools in line with Common Core. And both consortia are developing online assessments that will replace traditional paper tests.

As Bailey Mitchell, chief technology and information officer at the Forsyth County (Ga.) Schools, states, “the new online assessments are going to require a lot of computer hardware and connectivity to enable the provision of Common Core.”

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