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Articles: Technology

Penn Manor School District IT staff and student technology apprentices discuss FLDT, their DIY software imaging program for in-house student laptop management.

Developers created some of the world’s most recognized software in garages and college dorms. The same do-it-yourself spirit thrives today across public education. School innovators customize software that ranges from small applications used within a single classroom to programs that support a district’s full administrative functions.

K12 schools and universities are increasingly purchasing 3D printers such as the MakerBot and integrating them into the curriculum to prepare students for STEM careers.

Analysts expect 3D printer shipments to double worldwide to nearly 496,500 units in 2016—in large part due to demand from K12 schools and universities, according to a new report.

3D printers—devices that create physical objects from digital plans—are more common in STEM classes than in people’s homes, despite manufacturers’ initial expectations for the machines.

Many districts hesitate to integrate social media into district policies because administrators fear cyberbullying, class distractions or other negative consequences. But administrators embracing the new tech tools say social media enhances student and community engagement.

Inexpensive Google Cardboard glasses work with a smart phone to take students on immersive virtual field trips.

Students can explore the Great Wall of China and the surface of Mars using wearable technology products that are dropping in price and becoming more education-focused. Wearable technology, a new report says, will be mainstream in schools within four to five years.

Ramy Mahmoud teaches in the Plano ISD and is a part-time senior lecturer at The University of Texas at Dallas.

In my 10 years of teaching the ninth grade, I have struggled with a certain category of students—the low performers. These are the students who walk into class on the first day of school expecting to fail. They know nothing about me, but I represent every adult who has ever failed them in the past.

At Blue Valley Schools in Kansas, above, the website redesign team shows off its work. CIO Greg DeYoung stands on the far right.

A district’s website presents contrasting demands. It needs to be a constant digital presence: always up and always available. Yet its content and functionality are ever changing.District leaders solve this challenge in several ways.

Click to enlarge: Countries such as Turkey and Tunisia have 45 and 53 students for every school computer, respectively

Regular access to a computer varies for students around the world.

Some countries, such as Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, boast less than two students for every computer at school.

Others, such as Turkey and Tunisia, have 45 and 53 students for every school computer, respectively.

As the job of leading a district becomes ever more complex, and with many school systems facing large numbers of retirements, succession planning is becoming ever more important. Proactive succession planning for key leadership positions minimizes the costs, upheaval, instability and disruption of long-term district goals and initiatives due to leadership turnover. In the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, administrators have developed a leadership pipeline and succession plan that are helping the eighteenth-largest school system in the country achieve long-term success.

Ohio district uses Connections Learning by Pearson to increase flexibility and choice

The number and variety of courses that can be offered in a small rural district is often limited. That was not acceptable to Erik Belcher, superintendent of Fayette Local School District in northwest Ohio.

Katie Nicholson

Computer adaptive tests (CAT) are really growing in
popularity. With an adaptive model, which technology
clearly facilitates, great efficiencies are gained.

Most school districts back up student, human resource and finance records and other essential administrative data every night.

From hurricanes to software viruses to accidental keystrokes, many dangers threaten to corrupt school district data or impede access to it. To prevent loss of critical information, districts back up data routinely, on location and off-site. New devices and lower-priced cloud offerings mean districts no longer have to trade access for cost.

Albemarle County Public Schools removed hundreds of high school lockers and replaced them with benches for students to charge mobile devices.

One central Virginia high school replaced hundreds of lockers with device charging stations this fall to bolster its 1-to-1 program.

Microsoft’s new Windows 10 operating system arrived in late July free, for one year, to schools and other customers running copies of Windows 7 or later. By the end of August, it had been installed on 75 million devices worldwide.

Windows 10 joins an ever-changing mix of Apple, Android and Microsoft devices and operating systems found in U.S. school districts.

ClassFlow by Promethean facilitates engagement and inquiry-based learning in Maryland district

Harford County Public Schools (HCPS) in Maryland was challenged to increase student engagement and to use technology to facilitate learning. The DigitalHARFORD initiative was established two years ago to help infuse the right digital tools and content into newly created active learning environments to inspire all students in the district’s 54 schools. To fulfill that mission, the appropriate solutions had to be chosen and implemented successfully.

Phil Steitz

Technology should be one part of an overall blended solution that includes insights from educators and curriculum designers

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