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Articles: Classroom Integration

Glastonbury (Conn.) Public Schools is the latest district to roll out a plan to provide iPads to its 2,200 high school students—and it is only the first step to significantly reduce textbook costs and focus on providing a 21st-century learning environment for its students.

Five years ago, the Mooresville Graded School District in North Carolina went digital, with laptops and MacBook Air computers districtwide.

The district has not purchased a textbook in over five years, with the exception of those required for high school Advanced Placement classes.

A Griegos Elementary School student in Albuquerque uses an iPad in the library, which has a portable cart of about 30 iPads—known as Computers on Wheels.

For years, there’s been an ongoing discussion about the digital divide between the “haves” and the “have nots.” As technology has advanced, so has that gap, which is driving fundamental changes in how we work, learn, and live.

Administrators, educators, and nonprofit entities nationwide have been trying to lessen that gap over the past decade. With newer, lighter technologies like tablets and ultra-light laptops like the MacBook Air, some schools are considering getting rid of textbooks altogether and going digital.

Helen Gooch, middle,  the instructional technology coordinator for Clarksville-Montgomery (Tenn.) School District, is with two technology integration coaches at the Kilobyte training lab at Greenwood Technology Center, getting quick tips for using Windows 8.

The Windows 8 operating system, which splashed on the market in October 2012, is changing the landscape of Microsoft-based computers. The once traditional PC operating system is making the move toward a more mobile, tablet-based environment in schools. With it comes a drastic change that will affect how educators interact with computers in a Windows-based system. The last major change in Windows OS was in 1995, says Cameron Evans, Microsoft’s chief technology officer for U.S. education. “The world has changed,” Evans says.

Oba Ambassador students from Shadow Mountain High School in Phoenix, Ariz., run a technology workshop for classmates and teachers.

Introducing new technology into schools can be difficult, due to time constraints and a lack of resources. But your school can find a new way to help teachers integrate technology into the classroom.

A new partnership between Generation YES, a nonprofit organization that seeks to empower students to use modern technology in schools, and Oba, a cloud-based learning platform that encourages global collaboration, is allowing students to do just that.

A senior in the Princeton City School District video records the staff from the athletic department before they deliver a seminar to students.

Technology is so prevalent today, why not engage students in school with the same interactive devices and communication tools they love using? That’s the approach the Princeton City (Ohio) School District is taking as it employs a dizzying number of technology devices, software programs, and social media platforms to complement classroom instruction, homework, and extracurricular activities, and bring together students, teachers, counselors and families in a virtual community that increases support, accountability, and ultimately student success.

Organizations offer courses and other resources designed for administrators to learn what they need to know about technology.

ASCD’s PD Online offers 110 courses on everything from Common Core State Standards to literacy strategies to STEM education. (www.ascd.org/professional-development/pd-online.aspx)

Organizations offer courses and other resources designed for administrators to learn what they need to know about technology.

ASCD’s PD Online offers 110 courses on everything from Common Core State Standards to literacy strategies to STEM education. (www.ascd.org/professional-development/pd-online.aspx)

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As the cutting edge of technology has moved from getting computers into the classroom to digitizing textbooks to fully and seamlessly integrating technology into pedagogy, the role of superintendents and other district leaders has needed to shift to ensure teachers and students are reaping the benefits.

But that cutting edge has been evolving ever more swiftly in recent years, and at the same time, the roles of school district leaders have been expanding and becoming more complex, which has added to the challenges.

cross county sd

As the cutting edge of technology has moved from getting computers into the classroom to digitizing textbooks to fully and seamlessly integrating technology into pedagogy, the role of superintendents and other district leaders has needed to shift to ensure teachers and students are reaping the benefits.

But that cutting edge has been evolving ever more swiftly in recent years, and at the same time, the roles of school district leaders have been expanding and becoming more complex, which has added to the challenges.

Great Falls Elementary School Principal Wendell Sumter, left, and Chester County Schools Superintendent Agnes Slayman peer over students’ shoulders, excited about a project.

Schools aren’t often called one of the best in the world, but it happened in the rural district of Chester County (S.C.) School District. In October 2012, computing behemoth Microsoft named Chester County’s Great Falls Elementary School a 2012 “Innovative Pathfinder and Mentor School.” The distinction comes from the Microsoft Partners in Learning Program, a 10-year, nearly $500 million commitment to transform K12 education around the world by connecting teachers and school leaders in a community of professional development.

Though states are making progress in supporting effective school data use, they must do more to ensure that stakeholders like teachers and parents can easily access information, according to the annual state analysis report, “Data for Action 2012,” released by the Data Quality Campaign, a nonprofit that advocates school data access for all stakeholders.

Let me start with a couple of interesting “visions” of learning that I’ve read recently.

As of 2017, textbooks should be a thing of the past, according to a report, “Out of Print: Reimagining the K-12 Textbook in a Digital Age,” released by the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) in September. The report recommends that states and districts begin making the shift from print to digital instructional materials with the next major textbook adoption cycle, completing the transition within the next five years.

Keene, N.H., is a small New England town best known as home to Keene State College, Antioch College of New England, and a Guinness world record-setting fall pumpkin festival for the most-lit jack-o-lanterns in one place.

But Keene School District SAU 29 wants to be known for its own accolades—top-tier technology—and it’s trying to achieve that by replacing teachers’ desktop computers with iPads and piloting them as replacement textbooks in some classes as Keene explores digital instruction, and moves toward the “electronic book bag” experts say is on the horizon.

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