2. Go slowly.
Take the time to develop plans for identifying and understanding technology-enabled curriculum before providing devices to students. For example, my school system did not eliminate traditional textbooks in the transition to digital textbooks. We targeted new textbook adoptions and provided a class set of books as a backup. This allowed students and teachers to adjust to the use of digital textbooks while simultaneously evaluating readiness toward creating a Digital Learning Environment. Similarly, for teachers who were hesitant about using new technology tools, it was important to build effective integration into the curriculum. Ensuring easy access to online resources — whether through textbooks or other activities – will help you to gain buy-in at the school level. Having a seamless process for accessing digital content is important in avoiding user frustration. Locate early adopters in schools who know how to use technology effectively to develop activities, and allow them to model and coach their colleagues.

3. Resist one-size-fits-all.
The day-to-day details of your digital integration will likely vary from school to school and classroom to classroom. A great way to advance digital adoption from school to school is by identifying early adopters—those who are excited about technology and know how to use it effectively–to help lead the effort. Once these leaders are identified, train them first and give them authority to develop activities to model and coach their colleagues. Schools that experience the most success in technology initiatives are those that have teachers and staff in house leading the effort and actively engaging and challenging teachers to use technology in the classroom. Creating site-tailored policy around how devices will be used is also important at the individual school level. Some schools create policies where students may take devices home. Other schools have “bring your own device” policies. And still others require all devices to remain in the classroom. Policy should support what is best for a given school and its unique learning environment, strength and challenges.

4. Think ahead.
Tackle the issue of device sustainability early. District leadership should address how devices and digital resources will be sustained for at least five years, and beyond. Develop a plan in advance that addresses these issues as well as others, such as maintaining a robust network infrastructure and collaborating with internal and external partners. Refresh funds, grants and program fees can be used to support tech initiatives. Establish partnerships to help lower some costs; we receive high-speed connections at a reduced cost through our I-NET partnership with our local county government.

5. Find good partners.
Collaboration is key in preparing instructional leaders to optimize learning tools and resources within a digital curriculum. Discovery Education takes an innovative approach to teaching and learning, especially through the use of the Discovery Science Techbook. The popular G Suite, which includes Google Classroom, Drive and Docs, has become essential to our instructional setting for students and teachers. Sprint aims to close the “homework gap” through a new partnership to provide high school students with free, reliable internet-accessible devices. Find a group or organization to help your team realize its vision for a successful digital transition.

 

About the Author:

Dr. Maxwell is the Chief Executive Officer for Prince George’s County Public Schools, one of the 25 largest school districts in the U.S. with more than 132,000 students.


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