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Articles: Technology

Clinton Community School District Superintendent Deborah A. Olson

Iowa’s Clinton Community School District has incorporated two cutting-edge programs into its learning environment in hopes of giving students a better chance at graduating and succeeding in college or career.

Technology is revolutionizing the study of science in K12. New products for chemistry, biology and physics labs allow more engaging and, in some cases, safer experiments.

Following the BYOD and 1-to-1 trend, many of these products come with mobile apps so students can take their inquiries outside the classroom and analyze data instantly in the field.

Rachel Moseley, chief information officer at Scarsdale Public Schools in New York, above, shows Diego Gomez, a pre-law student doing an internship with her IT team last summer, where to find information on the district website and where to find the spreadsheet that he needs to update.

Wyoming’s Laramie County School District implemented its first student information system more than 15 years ago so teachers could enter grades electronically and share student progress with other educators. Almost immediately, district leaders realized they needed additional information systems to compile special education data, monitor No Child Left Behind standards, track visits to nurses and send emergency notifications.

Juniors in Billings, Mont. worked on a local multimedia exhibit that covered a series of hate crimes that occurred in the town 20 years ago.

Instead of essays and book reports, more schools are turning toward multimedia projects in the classroom to make lessons more engaging and even stem the tide of bullying and tolerance.

While implementing technology initiatives such as 1-to-1 and using audio and visuals such as photographs, administrators at Crosby ISD in Texas also wanted to see what their teachers could do to “beef up” their instruction, says Patricia Kay, assistant superintendent of instruction.

When a story goes viral, district leaders should Speak to the community as soon as possible.

At one point or another, school districts find themselves in the glare of a harsh media spotlight. Sometimes a well-intentioned decision backfires. In other cases, an employee’s inappropriate or illegal behavior sparks outrage. Within days, or even hours, the news goes viral and the whole world seems to know.

A student reads a book through the Booktrack website, while hearing music, ambient noise and sound effects that match the action of the story.

A platform that pairs e-books with movie-style soundtracks is gaining attention in the K12 realm for boosting reading engagement and comprehension. But some researchers remain skeptical of its claim of increasing achievement without additional instruction.

Students in algebra class at Free State High School at Lawrence schools take part in blended learning lessons.

Blended and online learning platforms are changing K12 pedagogy by providing students with some control over their path, time, pace and place of learning. This sharp departure from the traditional factory-based model of teaching and learning is increasing student engagement and freeing up time so that teachers can provide one-on-one instruction.

The constantly expanding world of mobile education means apps have become the tech of choice for implementing the Common Core State Standards. Administrators must now wade through hundreds of Common Core-aligned apps to determine which will get the best results.

A new wave of e-textbooks is giving students more than just words and a few hotlinks on a digital page. Publishers over the last few years have been adding video, interactive maps and gamified quizzes designed to engage students more deeply in their learning.

While Wi-Fi is delivered by building access points that connect to the local area network, LTE (commonly known as 4G) is powered by cellular carriers’ cell towers and requires a monthly fee.

Rural schools that don’t have the ability to build or maintain a wireless network may have another option that gives students internet access in class and at home: LTE networks.

LTE, or Long Term Evolution, is a wireless technology that offers fast data download and upload speeds for cell phones and tablets. While Wi-Fi is delivered by building access points that connect to the local area network, LTE (commonly known as 4G) is powered by cellular carriers’ cell towers and requires a monthly fee.

Aaron Sams and Jonathan Bergmann, former educators, are considered pioneers in the flipped-class movement. They are co-authors of Flip Your Classroom: Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day.

We believe that, at most schools, there is time built into the schedule that can be used to help teachers flip their classes. Many schools have professional learning communities and time is set aside for groups of teachers to collaborate, to work on district initiatives and be agents of change in the schools.

The main goal of President Barack Obama’s ConnectED initiative is to shift funding from outdated technology to build broadband and Wi-Fi networks to give all schools high-speed internet access.

The federal push to provide all students with high-speed broadband and mobile devices is kicking into high gear, with over a billion dollars pledged for school technology and an overhaul of the program that provides discount internet access.

The new breed of robots rolling, dancing and flying into classrooms is giving educators at all grade levels an engaging new tool to fire students’ enthusiasm for math, computer programming and other STEM-related subjects.

Students use their own mobile devices to work out math problems in an economics and personal finance class at Marshall High School in Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia.  (Photo: Donnie Biggs)

Districts that have implemented BYOD successfully have found building a powerful Wi-Fi network, developing explicit acceptable use policies, and communicating those policies clearly to students, parents and teachers are critical steps in the technology transition.

Mary Reiman is director of library media services for Lincoln Public Schools

Public education is embarking on a digital transformation. We are shifting from consumption-based learning to creation-based learning. These are moves in the right direction, but they require us to provide our students with access to the tools and devices needed to connect them to all the available resources.

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