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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.

On Nov. 14, over 1,000 Pennsylvania teachers received free sustainable energy training and teaching materials at the Sustainable Energy Education Workshop from Citizen Power, a nonprofit environmental and consumer advocacy organization. The free professional training and $170 worth of classroom resources, including photovoltaic and concentrating solar kits, wind turbines, LED light bulbs, books and DVDs, were a boost to the state, where schools suffered $860 million in budget cuts in 2011-2012.

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)

Collaborative virtual workspaces are one of the most effective new ways to assist in providing a high quality 21st century education. ePals’ latest platform, LEARN365, fosters social learning by providing a virtual space that is not bound by space or time for students and teachers to come together and exchange information. This web seminar, originally broadcast on November 14, 2012, addressed the importance of social and collaborative learning technology and Web 2.0 tools in providing a holistic, connected, social education for today’s students.

District leaders have a new state-of-the-art data visualization tool at their disposal for making critical decisions. Guide K12’s geovisual analytics integrates student information systems with interactive web-based software to enable administrators to filter on any characteristic and run instant queries. Administrators feel confident expanding a school’s boundary or offering a specific program based on the data the system provides.

Located on the North Carolina border in eastern Tennessee, the rural Blount County school system has 20,000 students and four major high schools. The district is very socioeconomically diverse, and includes students living at the poverty level, some from wealthy households and many others in between. Tensions between these student populations can create a host of serious problems—including bullying, prescription drug abuse, and weapons possession.

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.

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