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Saving time in Biloxi: Technology director Mike Jennings works on a computer while John Farris, network supervisor, looks on. Biloxi Public Schools’ students use thin clients that speed up downloads and ease testing prep compared to traditional computers.

The concept of “going virtual” has been gaining traction in the IT world for years. Today, school CIOs who have taken the next step—the virtualization of desktop computers—see a new range of benefits, including increased flexibility for users, cost savings, stronger security, and more frequent updates of hardware and software.

Integration and simplification top wish lists when it comes to website management tools. Administrators want tools to connect easily and effectively with parents and students as the variety of programs, platforms and devices grows.

A teacher at Howe Elementary School in Wisconsin, above, shows a student the steps of how to submit a digital artifact into his own e-portfolio. (Photo: Photo credit: Digital Student Portfolios, Matthew Renwick/Thinkstock.com: 123dartist)

Decades ago, portfolio assessment meant finding room for bulging binders stuffed with paper. But digital technologies that make it far easier to collect, curate, share and store student work have dismantled the physical barriers that once made portfolio assessment daunting.

Platforms and apps that provide parents direct communication and unfiltered access to grades, schedules, school news and emergency announcements offer better access than ever before.

The Technology for Education Consortium found that the cost for the same iPad can vary, depending on the district.

The education technology market might have become easier for district leaders to navigate, thanks in part to a new nonprofit group, Technology for Education Consortium. Leaders can share their spending limits on certain tech devices, and the consortium produces reports about pricing around the country.

Google rejects assertions that it has violated student data privacy rules.

In December, a nonprofit digital rights group filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission alleging that Google is using its ubiquitous access to educational devices to mine student data so it can better target advertising at students.

Old computers may not be trendy, but as school tech budgets shrink or stagnate, many administrators try to squeeze the most life out of their aging devices. Recycling and retrofitting, and hooking up to the cloud, allow districts to delay or even abandon established schedules for buying brand-new equipment.

Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS) is in the middle of a multiyear transformation known as S.T.A.T. (Students and Teachers Accessing Tomorrow). Initiated in 2013, the goal of S.T.A.T. is ambitious: To cultivate a 21st century technology learning environment for its 111,000 students that prepares globally competitive graduates.

Selected from more than 2,100 nominations, the editors of District Administration magazine proudly present the 2015 Readers’ Choice Top Products. This annual award program alerts superintendents and other senior school leaders to the best products their colleagues around the country use to achieve district excellence.

You—the nation’s top K12 leaders—submitted testimonials about your favorite products throughout 2015. Our editorial board carefully narrowed down the list based on the quality and quantity of theses testimonies.

K12 schools and universities are increasingly purchasing 3D printers such as the MakerBot and integrating them into the curriculum to prepare students for STEM careers.

Analysts expect 3D printer shipments to double worldwide to nearly 496,500 units in 2016—in large part due to demand from K12 schools and universities, according to a new report.

3D printers—devices that create physical objects from digital plans—are more common in STEM classes than in people’s homes, despite manufacturers’ initial expectations for the machines.

Inexpensive Google Cardboard glasses work with a smart phone to take students on immersive virtual field trips.

Students can explore the Great Wall of China and the surface of Mars using wearable technology products that are dropping in price and becoming more education-focused. Wearable technology, a new report says, will be mainstream in schools within four to five years.

At Blue Valley Schools in Kansas, above, the website redesign team shows off its work. CIO Greg DeYoung stands on the far right.

A district’s website presents contrasting demands. It needs to be a constant digital presence: always up and always available. Yet its content and functionality are ever changing.District leaders solve this challenge in several ways.

Ohio district uses Connections Learning by Pearson to increase flexibility and choice

The number and variety of courses that can be offered in a small rural district is often limited. That was not acceptable to Erik Belcher, superintendent of Fayette Local School District in northwest Ohio.

Microsoft’s new Windows 10 operating system arrived in late July free, for one year, to schools and other customers running copies of Windows 7 or later. By the end of August, it had been installed on 75 million devices worldwide.

Windows 10 joins an ever-changing mix of Apple, Android and Microsoft devices and operating systems found in U.S. school districts.

Why are 3D printers so important to education now and what future trends should CIOs be aware of to ensure the technology succeeds in the classroom?

Rajeev Kulkarni

Vice president and chief product officer

3D Systems

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