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Feature for District CIO

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.

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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.  

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.

Measuring movement: The Polar GoFit Ecosystem includes a wristband or chest-based heart rate monitor and fitness assessment software to measure a student’s physical intensity and exertion.

Digitizing education content and learning processes has changed the way students learn and interact during classroom sessions, according to Technavio’s report, “Classroom Wearables Technology Market in the U.S. 2016-2020.”

So classrooms emphasize collaborative learning and visual learning, says Technavio analyst Jhansi Mary J.

Using wearable technology will significantly increase student engagement levels and improve content absorption abilities, says Jhansi Mary J.

A middle school student at Tustin USD in California uses an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. The devices have been used in a pilot project at an elementary school and tested at a high school.

As smartwatches, wristbands, headsets and other wearable products become more sophisticated, expect to see classroom networks of these “ultramobile” devices interacting with each other and enabling students and teachers to share digital information as never before.

Teachers at Morris School District in Illinois can call students to the SMART Notebook interactive display. Above, third-graders work on a problem in their accelerated math class.

Advances in interactive display technology expand the ability for teachers and students to collaborate in the classroom as evermore powerful mobile devices are used to share content.

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.

Custom playlist: At Horizons on the Hudson school in the Newburgh Enlarged City School District, IT specialist Joseph Catania watches students demonstrate how they use ClassLink to access SAFARI Montage for videos they need for a project.

Let’s face it, digital content—from the Khan Academy to streaming videos to adaptive learning applications—has enveloped K12 education. While some district leaders have only begun replacing printed learning materials with the new technology, other districts are going entirely digital.

Teachers learn how to use multimedia in the classroom through networking: both in person and on social networks.

Twitter is a solid resource, says Matt Miller, a teacher and author of Ditch That Textbook. “There are some really robust, engaged communities on Twitter through certain hashtags, where teachers are sharing ideas and asking and answering questions all the time,” Miller says. “That’s been my single best source of professional learning.”

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.