Don't reinvent the wheel - collaborate!
On Board Online • October 23, 2017
By Eric D. Randall
"If you make me do this, I'm gonna retire."
That is the reaction you'll get from some teachers if you ask them to change their teaching to incorporate educational apps and other internet-based teaching strategies, according to Joseph Sutorius, chief information officer for the East Irondequoit Central School District.
That's why implementation of a 1:1 learning program (in which every student gets an internet-ready device) has to be viewed as a cultural shift and carefully rolled out, Sutorius said. He and Dave Miller, an assistant professor at the University of Rochester, spoke at a session on "Going Digital at Warp Speed" during NYSSBA's 98th Annual Convention & Education Expo in Lake Placid.
They said that putting an internet-ready device in the hands of every student represents an unparalleled opportunity to enhance learning through "digitally rich teaching." The right approach, they said, not only puts new tools in the hands of teachers and students but inspires teachers to collaborate and use their creativity to take advantage of those tools.
East Irondequoit goals include a desire to:
- "Transform classroom instruction from paper-based and lecture-driven to one where instruction is technology-enhanced, teacher-facilitated and student-centered."
- "Create a learning environment where information and resources are available 24/7 at student fingertips, and where learning is more collaborative, inquiry-driven and personalized."
- "Graduate digitally literate students with 21st Century skills."
If your district wants to create or grow a 1:1 program and avoid common mistakes, don't go it alone, Sutorius said. Collaborate with experts in higher education and other districts that are on the same path, he advised.
East Irondequoit has spearheaded a "digital conversion" consortium in Western New York that currently has 24 members.
The consortium relies on the University of Rochester for analysis and some forms of professional development. Miller noted that his university now offers a certificate in "K-12 Digitally Rich Teaching."
Elements of a successful transition to digitally rich teaching include:
- Commitment of the school board and top administrators.
- A realistic, sustainable budget plan.
- Good wireless infrastructure and tech support.
- Professional development.
Sutorius said his district learned important implementation lessons by attending technology site visits organized by the National School Boards Association (NSBA), which has a knack for finding districts on the leading edge of educational technology implementation.
And now the student has become the teacher, as East Irondequoit will host an NSBA site visit on Nov. 5-7.
"This is a growing movement," Sutorius said. He predicted that districts on Long Island may soon form a similar consortium.
For more on the NSBA site visit and information on East Irondequoit's digital journey, visit http://dc.eastiron.org .
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