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Articles: Technology

The first thing Bartow County Virtual Academy students learn is that online classes aren’t as easy as A, B, C. They’re also not for everyone.

Those also were early lessons for district administrators who opened the academy in January 2012 to 50 students—10 times as many as anticipated—in a former high school located an hour northwest of Atlanta. “A lot of kids thought it would be a piece of cake, but Aventa is very rigorous; you have to work,” says Jim Gottwald, executive director of secondary curriculum and student services for the Bartow County School System.

As blended learning is implemented in more schools across the country, administrators need to consider which online programs will most effectively drive student success. DreamBox Learning utilizes Intelligent Adaptive Learning™ technology to provide differentiated instruction, maximizing the benefits of the blending learning experience. This web seminar, originally presented on February 14, 2013, addressed the future of education, the benefits of implementing blending learning, and how online programs can meet students’ unique needs.

Small and medium-sized districts have unique challenges in establishing ongoing technology sustainability. However, even with limited funds and staff, it is possible for schools to have maximum functionality and ease of management with the latest technology products available. In this web seminar, originally broadcast on February 26, 2013, an IT manager from the Hamilton Heights (Ind.) School District shared how his school system was able to implement the Wi-Fi capabilities of a much larger district with a much smaller budget.

After eight years of employing a 1:1 laptop initiative, the team at Kershaw County Schools in Camden, S.C., chose to investigate alternate options for the 2012-2013 school year. Eventually, the school board decided that a 1:1 iPad initiative was the next logical step in maintaining technological relevance.

Digital coursework, student/teacher collaboration, assessment, and customization are only some of the many popular features Learning Management Systems (LMS) have to offer a K12 classroom. Though on the surface many LMS products seem to have similar assets for students, teachers, and administrators, each of those featured below have something different to benefit an individual district or classroom’s needs, whether it’s adapting to special needs, communicating with parents, or online security. 

So long, clunky desks. No more one-size fits all. Instead, cumbersome one piece desk-chair combos are slowly disappearing from classrooms. Institutional-style, heavy wooden desks dominated the school furniture scene for most of the past 100 years. However, as instruction shifts to a learner-centric, individualized approach with a focus on small group activities, heavy furniture that small hands cannot move on their own have become less desirable, according to John Musso, executive director for the Association of School Business Offcials (ASBO). 

Technology Together: Whole-Schools Professional Development for Capability and Confidence
ISTE

District IT leaders are prioritizing BYOD, assessment readiness, and broadband access for their schools, despite that 80 percent predict flat or declining IT budgets for the upcoming year, according to the Consortium for School Networking’s (CoSN) first-of-its-kind National IT Leadership Survey.

More than 50% of teachers say that almost all of their students have sufficient access to digital tools at school, but only 18% say students have access to the tools they need at home.

The Pew Research Center survey of over 2,400 Advanced Placement and National Writing Project teachers also found that 84% of teachers believe today’s technologies are leading to greater disparities between affluent and disadvantaged schools and districts.

In February, U.S. Rep. George Miller of California introduced the Transforming Education Through Technology Act, a bill designed to help schools, districts and states improve teaching and learning through technology.

iCreate
myCreate iPad App
The myCreate app is based on Stop-Action Movie (SAM) Animation software. Students can edit videos by slowing down or speeding up the delivery of frames, duplicating frames to lengthen scenes and adding music or audio recordings to their videos. Completed videos can be saved to personal albums and/or shared with family members and friends via Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo, or HapYak.

Despite my time being cut short at TCEA 2013, thanks to a huge winter storm slamming into the Northeast where I live, I was still able to learn about a variety of new products for the K12 world. Many products come together to form a modern, 21st century classroom: hardware, software, mobile applications, even furniture, which were all showcased at TCEA.

Cloud computing is growing in districts nationwide, with 42% of K12 schools implementing or maintaining cloud networks, which use the internet to store data. This is up from 27% in 2011, according to a 2013 report from technology solutions provider CDW-G. And 76% of IT professionals in K12 schools acknowledged that their use of the cloud at home has influenced their recommendations at work about moving to the cloud.

A class at Jamestown Elementary in Arlington, Va. after presenting their favorite apps during Discovery Education’s webinar celebrating Digital Learning Day.

On Feb. 6, over 25,000 teachers and millions of students in all 50 states participated in the second annual Digital Learning Day, a national campaign promoting digital learning and shining a spotlight on successful classroom technology initiatives. Though the event lasted one day, educators are encouraged to engage with technology year round, according to the Alliance for Excellent Education, a national policy and advocacy organization that hosted the event.

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