Page 14 - THE Journal, October/November 2018
P. 14

Nancy Battaglia
Skokie School District 68, IL Students: 1,800
Schools: 5
Size of her organization: 4
Melissa Dodd
San Francisco Unified School District, CA Students: 57,000
Schools: 133
Size of her organization: 100
Ellen Dorr
Renton School District, WA Students: 15,000
Schools: 25
Size of her organization: 35
Pete Just
Metropolitan School District of Wayne Township, IN Students: 16,303
Schools: 19
Size of his organization: 54
Daniel Smith
Washington County Schools, Plymouth, NC Students: 1,500
Schools: 6
Size of his organization: 3
Project Tomorrow recently re- leased its annual Speak Up results regarding digital learning. It found that 78 percent of teachers were “not very comfortable” facilitating student use of digital devices. What role can the IT organization play in addressing that?
Melissa Dodd: On Monday we had about a thousand educators come together for what we call our Digital District Day. It’s a day of hands-on engaging learning on building teachers’ essential skills so that they can help their students build those skills. We do one-hour workshops and they can put together their schedule based on their interest areas, content areas, grade
levels. They personalize their learning for the day. Then we offer additional learning opportunities that are both face to face as well as online throughout the year. The other thing we do is [team] up with our curriculum partners to weave in technolo- gies so teachers are building their comfort level as they’re learning content or instruc- tional practices and strategies.
Daniel Smith: The older, more seasoned generation of teachers is retiring out. I spent a decade handholding teachers just on: “Click on the selection on the screen.” “Do I left-click or right-click?” “Well,
try one and if that doesn’t work try the other one. You have a 50-50 chance.” Fast forward to yesterday. I did an orientation
for new teachers. My normal three-hour spiel was cut down to 40 minutes because
I could go straight to the meat-and- potatoes—”Let me give you some great ex- amples of what good teaching and learning looks like with technology integrated as a seamless piece.” Our teachers are becom- ing more digital natives as time goes on.
Pete Just: We started using BrightBytes five years ago. Twice a year, we’re doing self-assessments and tracking how teach- ers feel. It is important to get an idea of what they feel about the adoption of these devices, these tools that we’ve provided for their students. What we’ve seen is that it’s been slow, but the classroom part of that evaluation has gone up maybe one or two percent every single time we’ve asked. We have a nice trajectory, and I think that this is going to continue. What we saw this year actually was a bit of an inflection point, where we increased at a greater rate than we ever had before. We’re starting to see teachers understand the value that we can bring in terms of efficiency and in terms of access with these opportunities that they hadn’t seen before.
We’re going into a second and third generation of digital device usage by many schools. Is it proving to be financially sustainable, and is your district able to prove the value of the use of tech in learning?
Ellen Dorr: We are very fortunate to have a tech levy supported by our community. So that’s one way that we’re able to [make it sustainable]. We’re 1-to-1 with Chrome- books, and the price point on those is pretty fantastic. We’re able to make that shift. We still have some specific needs in certain departments. For example, in sci- ence we have probeware that doesn’t work on Chromebooks, so we have to have some other devices as well, but we are finding that to be sustainable. In terms of proving the value, we are working on collecting evidence for that. Starting this year, we have four big metrics we’re going to be looking at:

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