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Why Use Technology in Education?

Technology is simply tools that allow humans to work smarter, not harder. From the invention of the wheel to move heavy objects across great distances to harnessing electricity for lighting up dark spaces to hand-held communication devices that work via invisible waves, technology has advanced the capabilities of humans to work more efficiently and more powerfully. At the dawn of the 21st century, we are the most powerful humans to have existed.

The same is true as students and staff in education: we are harnessing the power of technology to work smarter, not harder. At our fingertips is the ability to learn in ways never before imaged, which will look differently than education has in the past few decades. Learning is not confined to period between 8am and 3pm for 180 days each year. We can access information 24 hours a day and there is no limit on the bounds of knowledge. This opens the possibilities of virtual learning days and alternative options for summer school, accelerated courses, and long-term absences.

Educators now have infinite amounts of resources; there is no longer a reliance on just textbooks. Learners can communicate directly with primary sources, view multiple forms of media, and produce engaging and meaningful ways to demonstrate their knowledge.

Accessing such infinite amounts of resources allows for learning to be highly individualized. Educators can offer more timely and personalized feedback on learning ensuring that students are guided to their fullest potential.

With great power, comes great responsibility. Now more than ever, all humans must learn the appropriate behavior for integrating technology in our lives as our “digital footprint” becomes as permanent as a tattoo. Our digital activity has long-term, real-life consequences in future education, relationships, and the workforce. Digital citizenship has become the utmost essential skill in the 21st century.

It is precisely because of these concepts that the Switzerland County School Corporation has chosen to embrace technology in learning and are committed to supporting students and staff in harnessing our skills for the betterment of our community and world.


 

How Are Staff Preparing for a Culture shift in the Classroom?

All district staff have carefully considered strategic steps in moving forward with technology integration in the classroom. Although technology has been an integral part of education for a few decades, embracing it on a large scale has been the culmination of research, planning, and testing.

Various staff, students, and community members have participated in technology committees that offered a voice for stakeholders in this initiative over the past several years. Staff have utilized the expertise of Five Star Technologies since 2014 and have also followed guidance of other school districts in their technology initiatives. The district also hired three Instructional Resource Teachers to facilitate effective professional development on a monthly, weekly, and individual basis year round.

Switzerland County Middle School launched our original 1:1 setting with ipads that expanded to upper elementary grades. Switzerland County High School piloted laptop and chromebook carts in various classrooms. All schools have desktop labs that have specialized software installed.

We are proud of our growth to expand 1:1 chromebooks in grades 4-12 at the beginning of the 2015-16 school year with plans for adding 3rd grade chromebooks in August 2016. Our next steps are researching, planning, and testing 1:1 tablets for K-2 in the next few years to replace our fleet of ipad class sets.


 

What Technology is Being Used?

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What Devices Are Used?

Grade 3-12, all certified/office staff/Administration/Instructional Assistants (beginning August 2016)

  • Dell 11 Chromebooks (original and 2015 models)

Grades K-3 students/K-3 staff/select Admininstration

  • iPad 2, 3, 4
  • large touchscreens with projectors

High School

  • Dell 11 Chromebooks (original and 2015 models)
  • Windows desktop labs (business, agriculture)
  • iPads for individuals with unique special needs
  • large touchscreens with projectors

Middle School

  • Dell 11 Chromebooks (original and 2015 models)
  • Windows desktop lab (small group instruction, individualized instruction)
  • 3 Macbook Pros (7th grade English media)
  • large touchscreens with projectors

Elementary Schools

  • Dell 11 Chromebooks (original and 2015 models)
  • Windows desktop labs (related arts classes, individualized instruction in regular classrooms)
  • large touchscreens with projectors

Office/Administration

  • Windows desktops
  • Dell 11 chromebooks
  • iPads 2, 3, 4 (select administration)

 

What is 1:1?

The term one-to-one is applied to programs that provide all students in a school, or district with their own  mobile-computing device. One-to-one refers to one computer for every student.

Given that computers, technology, and the internet are rapidly redefining nearly every area of modern life—from education to communications to careers—one-to-one programs are generally motivated by the following rationales:

  • Today’s students need consistent, at-the-ready access to computing devices throughout the day and, ideally, at home.
  • Teachers can only take full advantage of new learning technologies and online educational resources when all students are equipped with a computing device.
  • Teaching technological literacy and computing skills needs to be a priority in today’s schools.
  • Equipping all students with computing devices and incorporating technology into every course is the surest way to take full advantage of new learning technologies and produce students who are technologically skilled and literate.

 

What is Virtual Learning?

“Many people are not aware of how computers and Internet technology are transforming the way students learn. This emerging education paradigm is often called “virtual learning”, and it has the potential to improve student achievement, educational access and schools’ cost-effectiveness.

Specifically, virtual learning uses computer software, the Internet or both to deliver instruction to students Virtual learning comes in several forms:

  • Computer-Based: Instruction is not provided by a teacher; instead, instruction is provided by software installed on a local computer or server. This software can frequently customize the material to suit the specific needs of each student. 
  • Internet-Based: This is similar to computer-based instruction, but in this case, the software that provides the instruction is delivered through the Web and stored on a remote server.
  • Remote Teacher Online: Instruction is provided by a teacher, but that teacher is not physically present with the student. Instead, the teacher interacts with the student via the Internet, through such media as online video, online forums, e-mail and instant messaging.
  • Blended Learning: This combines traditional face-to-face instruction, directed by a teacher, with computer-based, Internet-based or remote teacher online instruction. In effect, instruction comes from two sources: a traditional classroom teacher, and at least one of the forms of virtual learning described above.
  • Facilitated Virtual Learning: This is computer-basedInternet-based or remote teacher online instruction that is supplemented by a human “facilitator.” This facilitator does not direct the student’s instruction, but rather assists the student’s learning process by providing tutoring or additional supervision. The facilitator may be present with the learner or communicating remotely via the Web or other forms of electronic communication.”

Michael Beek


 

What are the Technology Policies?

All students/guardians, certified staff, administration and support staff are required to sign a Device Acknowledgement in order to use school-owned technology. All students with an assigned device are required to pay a yearly technology fee before accepting possession of an assigned device.

Students are then assigned a school-owned device and charger with unique serial numbers for the purposes of school-related work and tracking. Students can not opt out of using technology as it is essential in our learning environment. Due to our long-term investment in technology, equity concerns, and school-specific applications, no personally-owned student devices will be used in school or connected to school WiFi.

Users are responsible for the care of school-owned equipment during use at school and off-campus. Equipment that requires repair should be reported to the Technology Department immediately. Repairs will be made as timely as possible. A limited inventory of loaner devices are only available while assigned devices are under repair. The same responsibility agreement applies to loaner devices. Any damages beyond warranty, lost, or stolen equipment will be billed to the student/guardian responsible.

Internet usage is monitored on and off campus on school-owned devices and accounts. We utilize GoGuardian and Google Apps for Education to filter inappropriate websites and track devices as best as possible. All users are expected to display appropriate digital behavior as digital citizenship is a major component to our district curriculum. Although we strive to create a safe and protected environment, certain digital behaviors can be subject to legal and criminal consequences.

Assigned devices will continue with the assigned student throughout a typical rotation cycle. Beginning with the graduating high school classes of 2019 and 2023, the assigned device issued to students will be available for personal ownership after four school years if all yearly technology fees are paid. This rotation cycle will mean that students who receive a device in 5th grade will personally own their device at the end of 8th grade; students who receive a device in 9th grade will personally own their device at the end of 12th grade.