Congratulations to the Grand Prize Winner:
Anne Arundel County Public Schools

eSchool News, in partnership with Xirrus, the leading provider of next generation, cloud-enabled Wi-Fi networks, would like to announce that Anne Arundel County Public Schools in Annapolis, Md. has been chosen as the Grand Prize Winner of the Innovate to Educate Awards program!

The winning entry from Stephanie Kelly of Anne Arundel describes its use of a telepresence robot for distance learning of home and hospital students. With the help of a robot, students who cannot come to class can now interact with their classmates and teachers, and be included in school activities—something that learning in isolation cannot provide. To make this initiative a reality, teachers, parents, students and the administration received specialized training. Additionally, full wireless coverage was necessary so the robot could travel from class to class, throughout the school with no drop-out points. Read the full entry here.

The Grand Prize

As the Grand Prize winner, Anne Arundel County Public Schools will receive a multi-faceted eSchool News media package that school leaders can use to showcase and share their “Virtual Inclusion for Homebound and Hospitalized Students” program with local and national stakeholders and constituents. The award package includes a feature story in the eSchool News magazine, along with a Success Story, and a custom-designed “Innovate to Educate Winner” icon for online posting and promotion.


Community Choice Winners

Two “Community Choice” winners Florida Virtual School (FVS) and Yuma Elementary School District One, were chosen in October by eSchool News readers through online public Facebook voting. FVS initiated a program called ClassTime, where two times a week students and teachers work together online in a blended environment—participating in discussions, sharing, taking turns, answering questions and working as a class. The Yuma Elementary School District introduced iTEAM KiDS Technology Ambassador Program—a student led professional development program where students teach teachers about the latest apps and technology to help increase teachers’ comfort level with using technology in the classroom. Each will be featured in an eSchool News editorial spotlight, so keep an eye on eSN to learn more about these innovative technology initiatives.

Innovate to Educate entries were submitted from over 75 schools and districts nationwide. We’d like to thanks everyone that participated, and we applaud your innovation and dedication to excellence in education!


A Special Thank You to Our Sponsor

A special thanks to our Sponsor, Xirrus, a leading provider of high-performance wireless networks that delivers a world-class, cloud managed Wi-Fi solutions that put your network at the head of its class. Questions? info@xirrus.com


Innovative Class Time for Virtual School Students

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Sarah Sprinkel, Elementary Principal

Click to view video.

What innovative technology initiative or project are you most proud of,
and how has it improved teaching and learning in your school/district?

ClassTime is an innovative strategy that requires students and teachers to work as a class in a blended learning environment, online, twice a week. Students interact online by participating in class discussions, sharing, taking turns, answering questions and working as a class while the teacher provides required standards. Students are highly engaged in the learning activities because teachers are directly teaching them online using the engaging curriculum they created that provides many interactives. Whether students are voting, writing in the chat box or working in a break- out room with a small group, they are actively engaged in the learning process.

What were some of the biggest challenges to your initiative, and how
did you meet those challenges?

Establishing best practices for classroom delivery for elementary ages has evolved as teachers and students learn together. We purchased cameras, writing tools, and devices that help the teacher present everything from science experiments to providing discussion based assessments online. Students work alongside the teacher with a science experiment, read a novel or write and submit their assignments. The delivery model is online but the content is usually unchanged.

What are the three biggest components that need to be in place for tech innovation to
succeed are:

It is imperative that the attitude of teachers, staff, students and families are that this approach will work. However, it will take adjustments since it is a non-traditional delivery method.
Adequate hardware and software are also necessary so the technology used is actually available to the users. Showing a video that students are not able to view does not work. Many alternatives have to be provided for students who have outdated access to technology.
We will benefit from continued innovation to better involve students in the process since many platforms do not provide enough interactives for young students.

iTEAM KiDS: Student Led Professional Development

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Christa Fairman, Educational Technology Specialist

Click to view video.

What innovative technology initiative or project are you most proud of,
and how has it improved teaching and learning in your school/district?

iTEAM KiDS Technology Ambassador Program. In the Fall of 2015, year two of the program, teachers stated the iTEAM KiDS had assisted them in the classroom when introducing a new app or technology concept to students, with learning a new app, managing devices, and/or troubleshooting. Seventy-five percent stated the program had increased their comfort with using the available technology in the classroom with students. By Spring of 2016 iTEAM KiDS were directly supporting teachers use of Apple TV, troubleshooting Promethean interactive whiteboard and ActivInspire software issues, and providing technology related professional development.

What were some of the biggest challenges to your initiative, and how
did you meet those challenges?

The first and foremost challenge was funding. We had this big wonderful idea that required money to fund the teacher power to implement. We began with taking an inventory of the grants in place at that time, how the iTEAM KiDS could support the individual grant goals, and partnering those grants to fund the iTEAM KiDS. In the Fall of 2014 Yuma School District ONE had a series of STEM grants and 21st Century Community Learning Center grants that could directly benefit from the implementation of the iTEAM KiDS Technology Ambassador Program. We partnered them up and hit the ground running.

What are the three biggest components that need to be in place for tech innovation to
succeed are:

Borrowing a phrase from Marcus Lemois, the three biggest components are people, product and process. People, students up through district administrators must see the value and support the initiative or it will fall flat.
Product, an Ed-tech initiative must fulfill a need. Ed-tech for the sake of Ed-tech is a lost effort for there is no cause.
Process, including infrastructure evaluation and maintenance, are key from development through implementation and sustainability in order to see positive results in student learning.
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Anne Arundel County Public Schools

Stephanie Kelly, Senior Manager Instructional Technology

What innovative technology initiative or project are you most proud of,
and how has it improved teaching and learning in your school/district?

Inclusion of a telepresence robot for distance learning of home and hospital students. This experience was valuable as now homebound students are able to have real time access to learning and still experience the social learning that being in the classroom provides. Students who cannot attend class due to serious illnesses are isolated to learn independently with the help of a home and hospital teacher who meets with them approximately 6 hours a week. This is only for core classes and does not include elective courses or involvement in clubs. Using the robot allows a student to interact with their classmates and be included in activities that learning in isolation at home cannot provide. It is very important to the healing process to be around friends and not socially isolated. Laughter and purpose helps with healing. Not being able to come to class, going through treatment, and having to be in quarantine is a sad and lonely process. With the help of a robot the student can engage with their class with the use of their computer. Whether they are at home or in the hospital they can participate with their teacher and classmates and feel a part of the school environment. Traditionally chronically ill children did not have an option but with the use of a robot those options have changed.
You can view a video case study here.

What were some of the biggest challenges to your initiative, and how
did you meet those challenges?

Strategic positioning and training. We had to address parents, administration, and teachers that having a robot travel through the school wouldn't be a distraction or impede the learning process. Also admin was afraid of teacher pushback. Our office worked with all parties involved to provide training and implementation stategies. Within a week everything was up and running and everyone was on board. The robot became the student and everyone treated the robot as they has treated him just as before he had to leave school due to his illness. Fear of the unknown was the drawback but heavy hearts to help the student overcame the fear. The staff wanted to help the student and they overcame their fear which proved to be a wonderful experience for everyone involved.

What are the three biggest components that need to be in place for tech innovation to
succeed are:

Infrastructure-a robust wireless network with no drop out points (full wireless coverage)
Teacher/admin training and acceptance
Home access to a computer to manipulate the robot

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