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Survey: Districts are increasingly going digital

Annual survey reveals more and more districts are turning to OER and other digital learning resources

Sixty-two percent of districts in a recent survey have a digital content and curriculum strategy, and more than half of those strategies (38 percent) include using Open Educational Resources (OER).

The findings come from the Center for Digital Education’s Digital School Districts Survey Awards, which gather data on schools’ efforts to grow digital learning. The awards also recognize exemplary use of technology school boards and districts.

Of districts participating in the survey, 62 percent are using classroom technology tools such as interactive whiteboards, document cameras, display equipment, and assessment tools. Thirty-one percent of those surveyed said they will definitely modernize in the next 12-24 months.

Half of surveyed districts have completed a one-to-one initiative with supporting infrastructure, and 38 percent are either planning to or definitely will modernize in the next 12-24 months.

Next page: Districts’ top 10 IT priorities

The survey also revealed 10 district IT priorities for the coming year:
1. Personalized Learning
2. Digital Content and Curriculum
3. Professional Development / Skills Training for Integrating Technology in the Classroom
4. Online Testing
5. Mobility (one-to-one and BYOD)
6. Common Core/ State Standards; and Networking Infrastructure Upgrades
7. Student Data Privacy including Policies
8. Data Management/Analytics
9. Technology for Physical Security
10. Cybersecurity Policy; and Cybersecurity/ Data Security Tools

Ten school districts each in small-, medium-, and large-size categories were recognized for their use of digital learning technologies and innovative leadership to support those digital learning goals.

Hampton City Schools in Virginia, top-ranked in the large district category, uses technology to encourage student and teacher engagement. In addition to Web-streaming their board meetings and producing a variety of podcasts for parents, teachers and students during the school year, HCS also provides digital literacy training for parents, including Internet safety and privacy, acceptable use policies and more.

Georgia’s White County School District, top-ranked in the medium district category, has moved away from print textbooks. Instead, the district is using e-textbooks, online collaboration, quiz tools, instructional games, simulations, films, TV programs, YouTube segments, music, lectures and podcasts for instruction. A full-time instructional technology director trains every teacher, and there are instructional coaches at each school tasked with helping teachers better integrate technology in the classroom.

District collaborative projects include online courses with North Georgia University, online video conferences and 3D virtual mapping in coordination with the county government.

Springfield Public School District (N.J.), top-ranked in the small district category, uses technology to improve instruction and learning. Using a robotic camera system and a remote device on a lanyard transmitting to their iPad, teachers record themselves while teaching. The videos are then uploaded into teacher accounts, reviewed and used for collaborative professional learning or self-reflection.

Meanwhile, data analysis is used to inform instruction, personnel and budgeting, and “InnovateNJ,” a collaboration with another district to share best practices in data analysis, identifies students that need improvement in specific areas. Parents can then review academic performance data and learn how to help their child with targeted skills at home.

“School districts, with the support of their school boards, are increasingly focused on learning through innovative technologies,” said Dr. Kecia Ray, executive director for the Center for Digital Education. “As a result, students are using all kinds of cutting-edge tools that assist learning, inspire creativity and help prepare them for the future. It’s my privilege to congratulate these school districts that are making exceptional gains to transform education systems with effective uses of technology.”

“The results of the Digital School Districts Survey exemplify how visionary leadership in the board room supports the innovative use of technology in the classroom and in the delivery of district services,” said National School Boards Association Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel. “The annual survey questions incorporate the latest technology trends and allow district leaders to utilize the survey instrument as a quick self-assessment tool to compare their own districts’ use of technology against national trends.”

Material from a press release was used in this report.

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Laura Ascione

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