Westside High School (WHS), part of Nebraska’s Westside Community Schools, owes much of its success to its focus on effective ed-tech integration that extends learning beyond the school bell. Its one-to-one computing program encourages student creativity and productivity—and school leaders are committed to using technology to meet the unique needs of every learner.
For these reasons, WHS was chosen as our “eSchool of the Month” for July/August. Here, Kent Kingston, the district’s executive director of administrative and technology services, describes some of the school’s accomplishments and its keys to success.
(Editor’s note: To nominate your school or district for our “eSchool of the Month” feature, go to: http://www.eschoolnews.com/eschool-of-the-month.)
How does your school use technology to advance student learning?
Westside High School focuses on using technology as a tool to improve teaching and learning. All certified staff and 1,952 students have had Apple laptops since the district’s one-to-one computing initiative was first approved in 2004. Standard software includes Microsoft Office, iWorks, and the iLife multimedia suite. Other useful software programs, like GarageBand, Comic Life, and Photo Booth, unleash creativity. In addition, some or all machines run specific applications recommended by staff, such as CAD for Engineering Technology classes. All WHS students can access Wi-Fi and printer services throughout the building.
Students access course documents and resources, take assessments, or participate in class discussions via the Blackboard learning management system or building wikis and blogs. They communicate with peers and teachers through First Class eMail accounts and use Noodle Tools to record and organize research information. Teachers and students podcast, tweet school news, and use iPods, iPads, notebooks, Flip video cameras, and green screen technology to improve teaching and learning.
We have always known that a small number of our students—most of them students of poverty—did not have connectivity at home. In 2011, our District Poverty Plan proposed Crickett mobile phone cards for ninth-grade students who were otherwise not connected outside of the school day. Today, nine students love using the devices. Our ultimate goal is that 100 percent of our students will have the 24-7 connectivity we know improves learning and student achievement.