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Articles: Classroom Integration

Peter LaMoreaux is a digital learning strategist who guides teachers in optimizing student learning. He is the instructional technology specialist at Brewster Central School District.

The implementation of digital learning tools is an effective means of maximizing student learning. Operations in this environment also better prepare students for their future endeavors in academia, employment and life. 

Ultimately, the answer to delivering school bandwidth might require a radical rethink in which districts scrap expensive IT infrastructure in favor of pure wireless connections.

Source: The Broadband Imperative II: Equitable Access for Learning, SEDTA (DAmag.me/bbd)

Educators and students, of course, increasingly rely on the internet for everything from online curriculum and research to playing edu-games and posting grades.

While online curricula platforms have propelled personalized learning to new levels, Coppell ISD in north Texas takes the concepts a step further.

When the central Connecticut town of Cheshire moved to reduce power use, it upgraded six of its eight public schools with the latest internet of things technology. The plan combined energy-efficient LED fixtures with sensors and cloud-based servers that automatically turn the lights off in an empty room or adjust brightness.

The district cut its electricity bill by 84 percent, saving about $390,000 out of an annual $65 million budget.

Andrew Smith, chief strategy officer in North Carolina’s Rowan-Salisbury School System, is leading a digital-first initiative that three years ago aimed to give an iPad or a MacBook Air to all students—and their teachers—from grades 3 through 12. Rowan-Salisbury became 1-to-1 by the 2014-15 school year.

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.

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.

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.

(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.

Robots Rev Up Classes: Advances in technology bring the use of more robots, like the one at the right, to K12 classrooms—to help students with everyday core subjects, or to cater to homebound students.

McKenna Smith, a high school student in Missouri’s Nixa Public Schools, had been unable to attend classes since elementary school because of chemotherapy treatment. But she didn’t miss as much interaction with teachers and classmates as she could have because she connected with them remotely—via robot.

Classrooms in Missouri schools use PowerGistics towers for convenient storage of 1-to-1 technology

An in-school Chromebook 1-to-1 program allows the 3,500 students of Confluence Academy Charter Schools in Saint Louis—only 6 percent of whom have internet access at home—to have access to more personalized learning. When Marcy Dotson, instructional technology coordinator, began planning in spring 2014 for the initial rollout, she knew she needed a practical solution for storing the devices in the classrooms.

Using tablets, apps and YouTube videos, students at a Minnesota elementary school have added new virtual elements to paintings and other artwork, so their masterpieces include videos that not only get them engaged, but also help them better understand ideas behind the art itself.

 Cindy Elsberry is the former superintendent of Horry County Schools in South Carolina. The diverse, high-poverty district won national acclaim for its digital transformation under her leadership and was rated as one of the state’s highest-performing districts.

As one of today’s most promising models for instruction, blended learning is growing rapidly across the country. But what really is blended learning, and how can educators use it to improve student outcomes?

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