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SCSD#1 planning for 21st century

Posted: Monday, Oct 1st, 2012

PINEDALE – The Sublette County Chamber of Commerce hosted a community conversation with Sublette County School District No. 1 (SCSD#1) Superintendent Jay Harnack on the district’s new 1:1 technology initiative last Tuesday.

Harnack was joined by technology support staff from SCSD#1 to present the devices and “cloud” system to be used by every student in grades 3-8 in the 2012-2013 academic year.

“Our goal is to get all of our students in grades 3-8 in a one-to-one setting, meaning that when they go into the classroom, they have their own mobile device and it’s there for their use,” Harnack said.

SCSD#1’s director of information services Chris Rule and instructional facilitator for technology Glen Egbert joined Harnack to explain how the district plans to integrate mobile devices in classroom instruction and provide learning opportunities to students outside of the school setting.

Rule began by citing a recent figure that more than 50 percent of the professional roles current K-12 students will occupy as adults do not yet exist.

“It is a very difficult task to prepare our kids for that future. We believe that introducing technology into the hands of kids, instead of keeping it out of their hands, is the way to do that,” Rule said.

The specific technology that SCSD#1 students will use was a topic of discussion among administrators. After sampling several devices, the district agreed on a hybrid between a traditional laptop computer and a touch-screen tablet. The device is a 2go PC, specifically the latest NL3 Convertible tablet.

As Rule explained, the device combines traditional aspects of computers such as keyboarding skills with the newer tablet platform for touch-screen data entry.

Beginning next year, Harnack reported, all students in grades 3-8 will have one of these devices to use in the classroom. Students in grades 6-8 will take them home after school.

Using a cloud-computing model, the students’ devices will access the district’s servers via a wireless connection. That means students will have access to their personal data from class work as well as the ability to access the software and programs they use at school.

Harnack said the integration of mobile devices into classroom education is a step toward preparing today’s students with 21st-century skills.

“We’re not trying to replace the teacher, we’re not trying to make technology the curriculum; we’re trying to turn technology into a transformative tool,” Harnack said.

“The focus, really, is on making sure that these 21st-century skills and standards are embedded into our regular curriculum, because these are the things they’re going to need,” he said.

The district’s “technology initiative” is not just about teaching technology skills, though. Harnack emphasized the focus on instruction to improve students’ meta-cognition, or the ability to learn, re-learn and adapt.

“We have to teach students about their own learning and how to learn, because we’re preparing them for jobs that don’t exist,” Harnack said.

Rule agreed, stressing the importance of teaching students the appropriate use of technology.

“It is so vital that we teach our kids the proper use of technology and how to think and reason and become a self-guided learner,” Rule said.

The district plans to expand the 1:1 initiative into Pinedale High School as well, to include grades 9-12, Harnack said, but the process is beginning with grades 3-8. The goal, he said, is to have technology implemented for all students in the next three to five years.

Currently, SCSD#1 has three pilot programs using mobile devices – one program each in the elementary, middle and high school.

Updates on the technology initiative can be found on the district’s website, www.pinedaleschools.org, under the “technology” heading and linked to a running blog.

For the complete article see the 10-02-2012 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 10-02-2012 paper.

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