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A Curriculum-First Approach to Technology & the Web

The web can be a powerful tool in delivering content and instruction in your district

To maximize the power of technology and the web, district leaders must define a clear purpose around using these tools as a method of deploying curriculum. At Del Mar Union Schools in San Diego, California, administrators used Google Chromebooks and Apps for Education to aid in preparing students for academic achievement and college and career readiness. This web seminar, originally broadcast on August 13, 2013, addressed the technology strategies implemented by Del Mar, the unique benefits and features of Google Chromebooks and Apps for Education, and keys to a successful roll-out.

Stephen Fang
Education Team

At Google, we believe in the power of the web to help people discover, connect, and learn. Leading-edge technologies will play a vital role in helping equip future generations with the skills they need to thrive in the workforce of today and tomorrow. Google believes that the web is the best platform for learning because it allows for dynamic learning, promotes 21st-century skills, and prepares students for their future careers. When you allow students access to the web and when you use the web as your learning platform, you provide them with an unlimited amount of information.

We also believe that the web is the best platform for learning because it promotes 21st-century skills. How children should learn and what they should learn has shifted in the internet age. It’s less important now for students to memorize the capitals of all 50 states. What is more important is to teach them how to analyze and make sense of the world’s information—how to determine if a source is credible, how to formulate an argument, and how to present information. The teacher is no longer simply standing in front of the classroom explaining his or her knowledge; he or she now acts as a facilitator for learning. The web is also the best platform for learning because it prepares students for their future careers. The truth is that we don’t know what the workplace will look like in 20 years. We need to prepare students for careers that do not currently exist. One thing we can count on is that devices will change, but the web will still be there.

Michael Casey 
Director of Technology
Del Mar Union Schools

Del Mar is a suburban K6 district located near San Diego, Calif. We have 4,000 students and eight elementary schools. We focus on teaching the core subjects of reading, writing, and mathematics as well as 21st- century skills, such as creativity, communication, and critical thinking. When some district leaders talk about doing a large technology rollout, they do not ask themselves the right questions. They ask questions about technology and the right device to buy. However, they also need to be asking about curriculum and how they will use curriculum to support instruction.

Shelley Petersen 
Assistant Superintendent of Instructional Services
Del Mar Union Schools

When we began the process of developing a strategic plan, we involved all key stakeholders, including community members, the school board, teachers, staff, and district administration. Our initial focuses were on our top three core strategies, which were educational program, technology, and professional learning. Professional learning focused on the instructional practices that are most effective in teaching writing. After a year-and-a-half of working on those effective instructional practices, we began to search for a tool that would support teachers and students in the instruction and production of writing for our students. The incorporation of technology began with curriculum and instruction, not technology. We did not acquire technology, then try to figure out the purpose for having it. We were clear and intentional about our instructional focus and then determined what technology fit our curriculum practices.

With the CCSS, we have had to think carefully about how we use technology to work toward these standards. We have a need for high-quality professional learning, which cannot be understated. Professional learning needs to include the school leadership, because as a site administrator, you cannot support and supervise what you do not understand.

Casey: When we were planning for professional learning, we budgeted for 40 hours of learning for each teacher. Some of those hours were done in the summer; we also hired substitutes so teachers could do peer observation during the day. One key thing about our training is that only about 60 to 90 minutes were spent on learning about the device, the Google Chromebook. They are really simple devices to use and manage. The rest of the time was spent on instruction and how to integrate the technology in a meaningful way.

We had a very purposeful way in which we rolled out this initiative. We met with each principal and each team of teachers that were going to implement the Chromebooks and went over the goals of the plan and what the expectations were.

Our goals included:

  • Maximizing the instruction of 21st-century skills through the appropriate use of technology and media-rich resources
  • Providing meaningful, rigorous student-centric learning experiences for every student
  • Utilizing high-quality educational software, such as Google Apps
  • Establishing an environment that is safe for our students

We use Google Apps because we feel they support the instruction of 21st-century skills, including writing effectively. The abilities to collaborate, share documents, and The web can be a powerful tool in delivering content and instruction in your district peer comment are all within one suite of applications. As a piece of IT advice, if rolling out a Chromebooks initiative, you should move away from a coverage wireless network to a saturated network to handle a large amount of devices per classroom. When people talk about 1-to-1 projects, they mean student-to-device. We do not want to think that way. 1-to-1 for us is about the number of interactions a student has with a teacher each day. There’s nothing more profound than to increase the amount of time a student spends with a teacher; nothing else will have more of an impact on his or her learning. For us, technology facilitates more time.

Fang: We offer schools a free suite of services called Google Apps for Education, which includes Gmail, docs, spreadsheets, and presentations for content creation. Since Google Apps are all web-based, it means they are available from any device with a web browser. We also offer Chromebooks, which run on the Chrome Operating System and use the Chrome Management console. Chromebooks are great for schools because they boot up in eight seconds, allowing teachers to start lessons quickly. There are no viruses or imaging, as Chromebooks update automatically. Because there is no hard drive, there is nothing to attack.

We have a centralized cloud-based management console through Apps for Education. This allows technology leaders to push out privacy and security settings for users across all devices. Another great thing you are able to do through the management console is to create a customized learning environment for your students. Through the control panel, you can segment students into different organizational units. That way, different grade levels can access different websites and applications. There is a customized experience for each user, no matter what device he or she logs into. Chromebooks are web-based computers that are great for schools because they are easy to use, easy to manage, easy to customize, and easy to scale.

To watch this web seminar in its entirety, please go to: