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Articles: Technology

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.

New Tech High students, with teacher facilitators Christie and Tom Wolf, second and third from left, examine vines in the Copia demonstration gardens in a viticulture project.

A bank in Albuquerque, N.M., had a limited budget to make one of its branches more environmentally sustainable, so students at the local ACE (Architecture, Construction, and Engineering) Leadership High School rolled up their sleeves and went to work. They searched websites for green design options, consulted with an engineer, and used spreadsheets to compare potential costs and energy savings.

Online learning is an exciting and limitless prospect, but the applications and devices required to support it demand a robust district network infrastructure. Though establishing the necessary broadband foundation can seem daunting, the resulting benefits are worthwhile pursuits. This web seminar, originally presented on June 4, 2013, addressed the importance of broadband today and in the future, factors to consider when developing a network plan, and the innovative initiatives made possible with high amounts of bandwidth.

The rigor of the Common Core requires a depth of thinking that is unfamiliar to many students. To begin teaching to these new standards, teachers must invoke different tools and methods. In this web seminar originally broadcast on June 6, 2013, administrators from Howard County (Md.) Public School System shared their phased Common Core transition plan, as well as their collection of online resources for students, teachers, and administrators.

With some 44,000 students, Cleveland (Ohio) Metropolitan School District was struggling without a centralized place to track college preparedness information prior to 2011. Students were being served by CollegeNow, an organization that assists with the advice and funds necessary to prepare for and graduate from college, as well as their own guidance counselors. All parties were using individual databases. The lack of structure and accountability led to low college enrollment and graduation rates for the district.

Recently, a school in the United Kingdom was criticized for losing the personal data of almost 20,000 parents, students, and staff members. Names, addresses, medical information, and photographs were wiped out.

Last year, the University of Miami had backup tapes stolen that contained financial data, Social Security numbers, and health information for approximately 47,000 people at its medical center.

Glendale USD in southern California has taken an unprecedented step in bullying and crime prevention by paying a company to analyze students’ public posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media.

The shift in CIO responsibilities has also trickled down to the rest of the tech team. No longer is it enough to be knowledgeable in computers. IT employees must have strong people skills as well. Here’s what CIOs said they look for:

Just five years ago, a student information system was used to take attendance and add or change grades. The tech director chose one, installed it and, in about two minutes, showed teachers how to use it.

Now, “it’s a portal for teachers to send assignments and for parents, students, and teachers to communicate with each other,” says Melissa Tebbenkamp, director of instructional technology at Raytown Quality Schools in Missouri.

At Batavia Public Schools in Illinois, administrators gather with CIO Anton Inglese. From left to right, Kris Mon, assistant superintendent of finance; Superintendent Lisa Hichens, Inglese, and Steve Pearce, assistant superintendent for human resources.

WANTED: CHIEF INFORMATION OFFICER: Looking for a technology expert, experienced with Mac and PC; servers; mobile technologies—including smartphones, tablets, laptops, and netbooks; coding; and helpdesk. Must be a strong people person and a great communicator, coach, and teacher, used to juggling multiple projects simultaneously, a team player, and always willing to pitch in. Comfortable in a fast-paced environment. People who have one way of doing things need not apply.

Districts that don’t have a full time chief technology officer may have a harder time keeping up with E-rate modernization and the shift to online testing, technology experts say.

Hundreds of educators are pressing for increased funding for E-rate, the government program that connects schools and libraries to the internet—especially important, given Common Core requirements for online assessment.

Administrators in the Los Angeles USD may tap the skills of students who hacked school-purchased iPads to strengthen security on the mobile devices. A week after the iPads were distributed in September, about 340 students hacked the security system to browse websites like Facebook and Twitter.

At Fremont County School District 6 in Pavillion, Wyo., the diverse population, including a large number of Native American students, poses occasional communication challenges. “Some of these students have cultural and language barriers,” says Diana Clapp, superintendent. “Instructionally, that presents issues in delivering the best education possible to each student.”

When used effectively, the appropriate technology and content can combine to transform learning through creativity, critical thinking, and problem solving. While achieving this balance can be challenging, administrators at the Richland School District Two (Columbia, S.C.) have found a way to implement innovative technology and engaging content for its 26,000 students. With Google Chromebooks and Apps for Education, the students at Richland are experiencing an elevated level of collaborative, innovative learning.

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