Articles: Technology

Teaching and learning have been transformed by a Digital Conversion at Mooresville (N.C.) Graded School District. Creating a blended learning environment has resulted in personalized, standards-based instruction and an increase in student engagement.

Jim Handschuch has been the principal of Lacey Township High School, which is part of the Lacey Township School District in Ocean County, New Jersey, since 2012. During his first year as principal, Handschuch found a steady stream of seniors wanting to drop out. With little to offer struggling students who simply did not have enough time to retake full courses required for graduation, Handschuch could not convince many of them to stay in school.

At the Henry County (Ga.) Schools, the only constant over the past decade has been change. A booming economy in the Atlanta area has resulted in the district more than doubling in size. “We went from 19,000 students in the year 2000 to 41,000 today,” says Aaryn Schmuhl, assistant superintendent for learning and leadership services since 2011. “We’ve built 25 new schools during that time.”

MITCH KRUEGER
Director of Technology
Goddard USD 265
Goddard, Kansas
(5,400 students)

JANICE ARTHUR-TOWNS
IT Director
Carson City School District
Carson City, Nevada
(7,900 students)

DOUG PEARCE, Director, Technical Services
ANGELA COLUZZI, Director, Network Integration
Broward County Public Schools
Broward County, Florida (235,000 students)

Edmonton Public Schools in Alberta, Canada, has been a Google Apps for Education district since 2008. Realizing the power of Google Apps to enable collaborative learning, leaders in EPSD introduced Google Chromebooks to replace computer labs and network-based machines.

When Kim Mathey, manager of instructional technology at Edmonds Public Schools (Lynnwood, Wash.), was approached by the district audiologist about the need for classroom sound systems for their 20,000 students, she was initially skeptical. “In 2004, we passed our first technology levy in a while,” she says. “I was focused on using that money for projectors, laptops and document cameras to enhance visual learning. I did not think audio systems were as necessary.”

Students need differentiated learning experiences to meet key goals and standards. Truly adaptive technology can give students an optimally personalized experience.

Individualized learning and flexible schedules are part of the philosophy at Falcon School District 49 (Colorado Springs, Colo.). After beginning as a fully virtual model and transitioning to a blended model, student outcomes have vastly improved at the district’s Falcon Virtual Academy. Its brick-and-mortar building facilitates collaboration and communication through open learning spaces, helping students to become more engaged and excited about learning.

It took less than three years for Tipton School District’s server-based technology program, once considered state-of-the-art, to become obsolete in 2007. At about the same time, the state legislature added a 21st-century skills requirement, including technology literacy, to the Iowa Core curriculum. And so, the search began for a new provider of technology literacy curriculum for the district.

The web enables unlimited teaching and learning experiences. By implementing Google Chromebooks and Apps for Education, district leaders can engage stakeholders, provide students with dynamic learning opportunities, and prepare students for future careers by utilizing the power of the web. This web seminar, originally broadcast on October 9, 2013, featured an administrator and a student representative from Leyden High School District 212 in Franklin Park, Ill.

To achieve measured success through blended learning, it is essential for educators to create learning experiences that enhance student understanding through technology. The team at the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools assists teachers at low-performing schools by providing resources such as engaging instructional software that create these experiences.

Mooresville Graded School District (MGSD) in Mooresville, N.C. is known nationally for its Digital Conversion, where every 4th through 12th grade student is issued a MacBook® to take home, every third grader has a laptop to use at school, and every kindergarten through 3rd grade classroom uses a SMART Board™ and interactive clickers.

Collaborative learning and small group activities can facilitate higher-level thinking in students. However, it can be difficult for teachers to effectively evaluate that all groups and students are on-task and learning, and it can be challenging for students to communicate with their teachers in a small group setting.

For a 1:1 initiative to be successful, it is important to consider the student learning objectives, not just the technology for its own sake. Utilizing technology effectively in the classroom can facilitate and enhance collaborative, problem-based learning experiences. This web seminar, originally presented on September 26, 2013, featured administrators from Baldwin County (Ala.) Public Schools and their implementation of a 1:1 program in a district with 30,000 students.

Blended learning holds significant promise as a cost-effective and egalitarian means to help higher numbers of students accelerate their learning, graduate, and meet challenges in a competitive world. In this web seminar, orginially broadcast on September 18, 2013, education technology expert Tom Vander Ark shared the keys to making personalized learning work for the greatest number of students through adaptive digital instruction, particularly Intelligent Adaptive Learning.

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