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Articles: Technology

In the Madison Metropolitan School District, the Research & Program Evaluation Office provides rigorous and high-quality research and analysis to support district priorities. By using data dashboards to create accessible, easy-to-understand visualizations of a wide variety of district information, the office has helped administrators understand what's working, what's not working and why, improving strategic decision making.

The world of work is quickly redefining what it means to be ready—a broader set of goals that reflect fast-paced, complex and diverse workplaces. Students need to be great communicators, collaborators and critical thinkers who can tackle novel problems. To prepare students to be really ready for their futures, we must define what that means for them now—not just once they graduate from high school.

While administrators can face a variety of challenges when it comes to mobile device deployments and BYOD environments, using mobile technologies effectively can provide new opportunities for learning, including rethinking the age-old institution of homework.

This year, District Administration’s Readers’ Choice Top 100 Products features selections from more than 1,500 nominations that range from cutting-edge student information systems and cloud-based security to innovative gamification software and state-of-the-art classroom projectors.

Administrators and school leaders nationwide have shared feedback on a wealth of education resources to help their K12 peers find the best products to achieve district excellence.

K12 educators increasingly embrace life skills curricula that promote social-emotional learning, mindfulness, problem-solving and other soft skills. Many districts no longer view such programs as “nice to have,” but as essential components of overall instruction.

Marc Prensky, the founder and executive director of the nonprofit Global Future Education Foundation and Institute, wants to replace traditional curriculum with project-based, real-world problem-solving.

In his new book, Education To Better Their World, Marc Prensky—an authority on the connection between learning and technology—says our current education system is wrong for the future, not because we haven’t added technology and 21st century skills, but because we have the wrong ends or goals in mind.

Janet Pittock,  V.P. of Curriculum and Mathematics, Redbird Mathematics,  McGraw-Hill Education, School Group

Educators want to work with students the way they learn best, and we know that one-on-one or small-group instruction is effective. But for the sake of efficiency, schools often employ the “factory” model to teach large numbers of students in a classroom, assuming their age equates to similar positions in their learning progress.

When it comes to data analytics, Maribeth Luftglass,CIO at Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia, focuses on ensuring privacy of all student data. And, she adds, it should be a top concern for all CIOs. (Photo: Donnie Biggs, Fairfax County Schools)

Just a few years ago, CIOs—if they were involved in data analytics at all—would run a report, export it into an Excel document and share it with teachers and district leaders once a week or at the end of each semester. Now it’s all about creating systems that aggregate and sort data automatically, making it easier for educators to view crucial information every day

AT&T offers a host of network options to support the needs of schools and libraries and is investing in innovation  to bring even more efficiency and flexibility into network management.

Reliable, affordable and advanced networking is essential to every educational institution. Demand for communication services that support WANs, Wi-Fi and high-bandwidth educational applications continues to rise as curriculum and instruction increasingly shifts to technology-rich environments.

Cloud usage is on the rise. In 2014, schools delivered only 42 percent of their IT solutions fully or partially via cloud. In just two years, that number jumped to 67 percent and in three years, K-12 IT pros expect that number to reach 74 percent, according to CDW-G’s K-12 Cloud Possibilities infographic.

Those numbers are impressive. However, for the 33 percent of schools that have not yet taken the cloud plunge, many are asking, where do I begin? Is it worth it? There are seemingly an overwhelming number of providers, options and approaches.

The maker movement is poised to transform K12 learning. Makerspaces—workshop areas that provide tools and raw materials for students to invent, create, collaborate and learn—reinforce STEM skills and enable more authentic learning. While there are a variety of ways to design and build makerspaces, there are some key strategies administrators can employ to ensure their program is successful.

WHO KNOWS THE ANSWER?—A teacher at Immaculata-La Salle High School in Miami reviews an analysis report with her students to discover concepts they are struggling with to better inform instruction for the rest of the class.

Two decades ago, most student response systems were simple clickers that could only record and display answers to multiple-choice or yes-no questions. But now, many systems let students enter free-form responses to questions. Teachers can see those responses as they are entered, and can provide immediate feedback.

As teaching has evolved with the increase of educational technology, so has the classroom space itself. Many schools are creating more comfortable, coffee shop-like collaborative environments with a new breed of desks, chairs and work tables.

(Click to enlarge)

Exciting students about learning is the No. 1 reason schools are experimenting with virtual reality.

It's a rapidly advancing technology the most district expect to use in the near future. 

Other benefits educators have cited?

It reduces the costs of field trips and encourages creativity. 

See the infographic at right—and this related story—for more details.  

While robotics is two to three years away from mainstream adoption in K12 education, potential uses are gaining traction for hands-on learning. Many classes and clubs incorporate robotics and programs to help develop critical-thinking and problem-solving skills in students.

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