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Articles: Technology

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)

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.

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. This web seminar, originally broadcast on December 3, 2013, featured a blended learning and adaptive technology expert who shared data about the use of adaptive learning technology, defined what true adaptive technology looks like, explored the pedagogical implications of adaptive technology, and discussed how adaptive technology empowers students to authentically learn and deepen their understanding.

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.

Students use ed-tech startup Edmodo to communicate with teachers and classmates through a closed social network.

Education technology-focused startups are experiencing their biggest boom ever, with 99 new companies raising over $500 million in the first quarter of 2014. This is up from just 20 companies that raised $64 million in 2009, according to startup activity database CrunchBase.

Creating educational materials has taken on a whole new meaning as more schools are bringing 3D printers into classrooms. Science, technology, art and engineering classes are using this new technology to build their own lab tools and to bring sculptures to life, among other projects.

Despite this innovation, districts still need traditional paper printers for everyday memos, marketing materials and letters.

High schools in Connecticut and Texas have blocked a new social media app from school Wi-Fi servers after several reports of cyberbullying.

As all educators know, reading is the key to lifelong learning, but it can be a challenge outside the classroom, with competition from TV, video games, and other distractions. That’s one reason United Way-Sun Coast has partnered with myON for the “Read on myON” project since 2012.

School administrators are using mobile software applications to remain highly productive no matter where they are. These same apps also are making it easier to create learning communities where leaders can share a wide range of information with other districts.

States signed 132 digital learning bills into law last year, according to the Digital Learning Report Card 2013. (Click image to enlarge)

States are passing legislation to improve technology use in K12 classrooms, having debated more than 450 digital learning bills and having signed 132 into law last year, according to the Digital Learning Report Card 2013.

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