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Articles: Technology

Students participating in the virtual field trip to the Chicago Botanic Garden watched horticulturalists demonstrate tree removal and the environmental impact of an invasive beetle.

Students from around the world have been traveling virtually to the White House, the Antarctic and the International Space Station thanks to a Google+ program that helps classrooms confined by budget cuts explore the world outside of school.

Students in the rural Spartanburg School District 3 in Glendale, S.C. benefitted from technology infrastructure upgrades and a new 1-to-1 program.

Before purchasing tablets or creating BYOD policies, district leaders need to ensure that outdated school networks can handle the heavy lifting required to provide digital content for all students.

Most school networks are designed to support one computer per five students—the goal set by the U.S. Department of Education in the mid-1990s. But as most know, that is no longer sufficient given the rapid increase in popularity of the 1-to-1 model, says Denise Atkinson-Shorey, senior project director at CoSN.

Districts interested in implementing blended learning sometimes turn to teachers rather than outside providers to create online curriculum to integrate with in-class instruction. This method may save costs, but requires continuous professional development and access to devices for all students. Here are two districts just beginning to create blended learning solutions with teachers at the helm.

Students take control of learning

Baldwin County School District in Alabama spends $9 million per year on its Digital Renaissance program, which funds MacBook Air laptops for middle and high school students, and iPads for K2 students.

Before 4,450 MacBook Airs were distributed to students, before teachers were equipped and trained on their own devices, before test scores increased and the dropout rate decreased, the Mooresville Graded School District’s digital conversion started with a hard look at finances—one result of which was the elimination of more than 35 teaching positions.

Students at Lewis and Clark High School in the Vancouver, Wash., work in small groups as part of their typical school day. 

School administrators overwhelmed by the idea of blended learning need not fear: many districts have successfully implemented one of four models now widely accepted in K12 education. Even more encouraging, some of these schools are seeing increased achievement, lower dropout rates, and other positive results.

Students in the Orange County School District in North Carolina, above left, have sturdy laptops thanks to a blend of funding from a county sales tax and the district’s capital budget.

Prepare for all expenses

Implementing a 1-to-1 program involves more than just buying or leasing tablets or laptops, notes Terry Haas, chief financial officer of Mooresville Graded School District. District leaders also need to prepare for other costs, including setting up wired or wireless networking, and servers needed to support the additional computers and software. Technology staff also needs to be hired or expanded.

Education expert Will Richardson says schools must teach students to be successful learners in a world of information.

In his new book, Will Richardson says schools aren't keeping up the tech that drives today's students.

Innovative and progressive blended learning strategies are being implemented in school districts across the United States. What started as an alternative to face-to-face instruction, blended learning programs have provided students the opportunity to have more control of their learning. Research by the Innosight Institute found that in 2000, roughly 45,000 K12 students took an online course and, by 2010, over 4 million students were participating in some kind of formal online learning program.

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The editors of District Administration magazine are proud to present the 2013 Readers’ Choice Top 100 Products. This year’s winners were chosen from more than 1,800 unique nominations sent by K12 leaders who detailed the products’ positive impacts on their schools.

As we start the 2013 school year, 6,000 students in four districts in New York, Illinois, Texas and Florida will be learning problem-solving skills using ST Math, thanks to a partnership between Hyundai Motor America and education nonprofit MIND Research Institute. Each district will receive ST Math instructional software, along with teacher training and ongoing educational support from MIND Research.

Adam Ebbole, a physical education teacher at the Ravenswood Ridge Elementary Network in Chicago, Illinois, has discovered an innovative way to solve the often awkward problem of picking teams during daily gym class, avoiding the sometimes painful popularity contest that is team selection. Ebbole received a new Epson VS210 Projector from DonorsChoose.org and he’s putting it to great use.

Project Tomorrow’s 2012 Speak Up National Research Project provides insight into what parents, principals, and other stakeholders would like to see in terms of technology, in and out of the classroom. These results can inform administrators’ plans and decisions. This web seminar, originally broadcast on July 11, 2013, addressed the respondents’ different views on the benefits of digital content in the classroom, the importance of personalized learning, and how specific technologies can be used to individualize instruction.

 A teacher is trained to use one of the 700 Asus tablets given to educators in Central USD in Fresno. All of the district’s 15,000 students will get tablets in the 2014-2015 school year.

The rise of 1-to-1 programs has pushed a surge of mobile devices into schools, creating a whole new logistical challenge for district CIOs.

Principals, superintendents, and district CIOs are increasingly becoming the decision-makers for purchasing school apps, according to a new survey.

Teachers are increasingly incorporating videos from YouTube’s education channel into classroom lessons.

Districts are dropping bans on YouTube and allowing students and teachers access to the site’s educational videos. Paving the way in this shift in policy are large districts like Chicago and Broward County, Fla.

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