Digital Transformation: Bringing the Future of Education to Classrooms Today
Editor’s Note: The following post is one in a series of guest blogs The Talbot Times will feature on the HTSD digital transformation. The first blog in the series is dedicated to explaining the process of the digital transformation.
As you may have heard by now, the Hampton Township School District is embarking on a digital transformation designed to enrich our already rigorous learning environment. A feature story in the Spring 2017 issue of Hampton Magazine outlines the Districts plans and goals moving forward.
In February, I approached the School Board with plans for a strategic vision for the District that incorporates transformative teaching and learning into the curriculum. The District has been working with educational consultants Alan November of November Learning, and Dr. Michael Gielniak of the One-to-One Institute, to guide us on our journey.
I want to share with the community that the District is moving towards transformational teaching and learning for all of our students. Student devices, along with other forms of technology, will be used to accelerate achieving deeper levels of understanding, while developing essential critical thinking skills for success in the modern world. Research indicates that implementing a student device initiative that places the emphasis on creating a strategy for using digital tools to enrich the classroom academic experience is considered optimal. This is the approach we have taken to the digital transformation here at Hampton.
Mr. November, in his sessions with our District, replaced the one-to-one phrasing with what he considers a more accurate – and more successful – vision for digital transformation: one-to-world. As Mr. November explained, too many schools fail to evolve in their thinking with regard to the power of digital technology. He emphasized that a true digital transformation should never be about simply placing a device in front of a student. Proper strategic planning allows districts to evolve in a way in which students, led by classroom teachers, will be able to use various forms of technology to explore limitless opportunities for deep learning.
So what might an example of this limitless opportunity for learning look like at Hampton? In a traditional learning environment, teachers serve as the content expert, the focus is on subject mastery and all students perform the exact same tasks. Unfortunately, this kind of rigidity does not allow for individual student growth or the acquisition of real-world skills that are essential in becoming creative and innovative problem-solvers and communicators, which is the mission of the Hampton Township School District.
In a transformative learning environment, the teacher becomes the facilitator of learning in a flexible classroom environment, where technology enables self-direction and pacing of students who are engaged in a variety of individualized and collaborative tasks. For example, if elementary students are learning about Southeast Asian culture, what better way to enhance that lesson than by connecting with a classroom of students in New Delhi. With digital technology, students from Hampton easily could collaborate with students in New Delhi, providing the kind of real-world learning that cannot be obtained from a text book. It is this type of transformative learning environment we hope to create in all of our classrooms.
In addition to equipping our students and classrooms with instructional technology, professional development of our teaching staff is a crucial component in the success of a transformative learning environment. Providing professional development opportunities for our staff, and supporting their efforts to find creative ways to infuse technology into everyday learning, is necessary to ensure that we are not simply taking new tools and using them to do old work. In an upcoming blog, District Curriculum Director Dr. Jacquelyn Removcik will discuss how transformative learning and digital technology is already enhancing the HTSD curriculum, as well as how the District plans to design its professional development opportunities for teachers to help support them in this collaborative journey.
Parents in our District already are aware of how skilled their children are with digital devices, and to some extent, our teachers already are using instructional technology to engage our students. Bee-bots, littleBits and Makey-Makeys are among the tools already at teachers’ disposal at the elementary level. Our elementary schools also have access to mobile STEAM carts, courtesy of students at the Middle School who designed the carts, and the High School, where students assembled them. At the secondary levels, students have access to design software, 3-D printers and other technology that can be used to enhance learning.
As we move forward with our District-wide digital transformation, we intend to phase out computer labs and continue to upgrade and improve our students and staff access to digital resources from any classroom or location. I want to assure the community that this transformation will occur in phases to ensure success without major disruption to effective teaching and learning efforts already underway, and without overburdening our taxpayers. Our School Board members currently are reviewing a budget for the 2017-2018 School Year that includes phase one of our digital transformation, which is to provide a tablet device for second grade and a hybrid laptop device for three grades at the upper elementary/secondary level. Some of our newer devices, including tablets, will be redistributed as part of this process, which will reduce the number of new devices the District will initially need to purchase.
While it is inevitable that we will encounter some challenges on our journey, I will continue to apprise our community of the actions we are taking to make our digital transformation as smooth as possible for our students, our staff and our families. Updates on our progress, as well as the roll-out process, will continue to be posted on The Talbot Times, the District website and our Twitter and Facebook accounts. Occasional updates also will be provided to the public during scheduled School Board meetings.
About the Author: Dr. Michael Loughead is the Superintendent of Schools for the Hampton Township School District.
Friday June, 2, 2017 at 01:09PM
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