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Articles: Technology

More assessment data is available to district leaders than ever before, providing insights into student learning throughout the school year and at the individual student, classroom, school and district levels. However, all of this data will not have a positive impact unless district leaders have a clear strategy to use the insights gained from assessments to inform crucial decisions.

Professional development is a key component of any district, but what takes professional learning to the next level of engagement and effectiveness is being able to differentiate and personalize professional growth for each teacher or administrator. In the recent Personalized Professional Learning Survey sponsored by Performance Matters (formerly Truenorthlogic), over 500 educators from around the country shared their insights on best practices and challenges for creating a personalized professional learning climate in their school districts.

One of the newest technologies being applied in K12 STEM coursework today is 3D printing, which helps to fuel creativity, problem solving and project-based learning while exposing students to tools they may use later in their careers. 3D printing can also be used at the middle school level to prepare students for more advanced work in high school.

Digital Fly now monitors Facebook along with Twitter and Instagram.

Technology is a vital part of students’ lives: 92 percent of teens say they go online daily and 24 percent say they are logged in "almost constantly." One challenge for schools has been overcoming the perception that social media monitoring jeopardizes student privacy.

Saving time in Biloxi: Technology director Mike Jennings works on a computer while John Farris, network supervisor, looks on. Biloxi Public Schools’ students use thin clients that speed up downloads and ease testing prep compared to traditional computers.

The concept of “going virtual” has been gaining traction in the IT world for years. Today, school CIOs who have taken the next step—the virtualization of desktop computers—see a new range of benefits, including increased flexibility for users, cost savings, stronger security, and more frequent updates of hardware and software.

More than five years after Congress required schools to serve healthier food, districts are using social media, technology tools and old-fashioned personal outreach to connect with parents. The goal: persuading them that today’s school meals are nothing like the sometimes unhealthy foods they remember from their own childhoods.

In 2012, 30 percent of teachers said they use games in their lessons. In 2010, the number was only 23 percent. (Click to enlarge)

The use of game-based learning in the nation’s classrooms has doubled over the past five years. In 2015, 48 percent of teachers said they use games in their lessons, making them the second-most common form of digital content consumed in the classroom.

Literacy changes taking hold in schools recognize the subject’s expansion from traditional textbooks to online readings, images and audio. New learning standards ask students to read more closely and write more analytically, meaning teachers must adapt curriculum to get students reading earlier.

Digital assessment tools provide a unique opportunity to personalize learning, by enabling seamless connection between a district’s curriculum, assessments and achievement data to give immediate feedback that guides teaching and improves learning on a daily basis.

Personalized learning has become a catch-all phrase, often used to describe technology in the classroom rather than a new approach to teaching and learning. In order for personalized learning to effectively improve student outcomes, however, there are four key components that must be a part of any district’s personalized learning environment.

Custom playlist: At Horizons on the Hudson school in the Newburgh Enlarged City School District, IT specialist Joseph Catania watches students demonstrate how they use ClassLink to access SAFARI Montage for videos they need for a project.

Let’s face it, digital content—from the Khan Academy to streaming videos to adaptive learning applications—has enveloped K12 education. While some district leaders have only begun replacing printed learning materials with the new technology, other districts are going entirely digital.

Integration and simplification top wish lists when it comes to website management tools. Administrators want tools to connect easily and effectively with parents and students as the variety of programs, platforms and devices grows.

A teacher at Howe Elementary School in Wisconsin, above, shows a student the steps of how to submit a digital artifact into his own e-portfolio. (Photo: Photo credit: Digital Student Portfolios, Matthew Renwick/Thinkstock.com: 123dartist)

Decades ago, portfolio assessment meant finding room for bulging binders stuffed with paper. But digital technologies that make it far easier to collect, curate, share and store student work have dismantled the physical barriers that once made portfolio assessment daunting.

Cathy Boshamer is the director of special services for Spartanburg District 5 in South Carolina.

The Office of Special Education Programs revised its accountability operation in 2014 to shift the balance from a system focused on compliance to one that emphasizes results. The new framework has been a breath of fresh air, especially for those of us working in special education.

More data privacy bills are expected to be signed into law by the end of the year.

Laws already passed in 2016 focus on data governance, transparency and leadership.

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