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Articles: Technology

To maximize the power of technology and the web, district leaders must define a clear purpose around using these tools as a method of deploying curriculum. At Del Mar Union Schools in San Diego, California, administrators used Google Chromebooks and Apps for Education to aid in preparing students for academic achievement and college and career readiness.

The influx of devices and applications that result from a BYOD project typically strain a district’s wireless network. Keeping your network secure is also a concern. However, with the proper device and network management tools, these issues can be mitigated and innovative ways of delivering education through technology can be achieved. This web seminar, originally broadcast on August 22, 2013, featured experts from Cisco Meraki and GovConnection, who offered advice on how to plan for, implement, and manage wireless networks in a BYOD environment.

The Common Core State Standards assessments will be implemented in the 2014-2015 school year. To prepare, district technology leaders need to look at their networks and systems. Changes may need to be made to handle the challenges of online assessments. This web seminar, originally broadcast on August 8, 2013, featured district and PARCC speakers who discussed the format of the assessments, the technology requirements necessary to deploy the assessments, and the challenges in preparing your networks.

Christopher J. Librandi is an Connecticut-based attorney who practices business law, including information technology.

The age of textbooks and filing cabinets is coming to an end. Smart phones, tablets and cloud storage are the tools of the day.

Most students probably have their own devices by the time they reach middle school and most school districts use cloud services for record retention and data analysis.

School administrators know they need to try to stop violence before it happens. Having the proper surveillance equipment can help district leaders keep a watchful eye over students and prevent the wrong people from entering a building.

Ingenium Charter School students, like this one shown, set goals for their own personalized learning.

Personalized learning is beginning to produce positive results in student achievement as it becomes more established in districts nationwide. These success stories are encouraging more districts to adopt the tech-heavy learning model that’s designed to customize education for each student.

The Oyster River Cooperative School District in Durham, N.H., recently upgraded to gigabit wired connectivity and replaced its legacy Wi-Fi with Aruba Networks. Above, Carolyn Eastman, assistant superintendent, meets with IT Director Joshua Olstad.

Implementing technology upgrades required for Common Core assessments can be more opportunity than burden for districts seeking the most academic achievement from their IT spending.

Richard Culatta is the deputy director of the Office of Educational Technology at the Department of Education.

Last June, President Obama unveiled ConnectED, a five-year initiative designed to connect 99 percent of America’s students to the internet through high-speed broadband and high-speed wireless—and also equip public schools with the tools to make the most of the enhanced connectivity.

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.

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