27 Jul Merging Curriculum and IT Planning Improves Chromebook Success
Chromebook one-to-one programs produce better results when IT specialists help design the curriculum, instead of simply managing the equipment.
School district administrators are increasingly choosing Chromebook technology over competing tablet and laptop devices because of its ability to facilitate learning and student engagement at reasonable cost. The failures of hasty districts have helped improve Chromebook integration across the country, but even in districts with successful deployments, many schools are mistakenly applying the textbook model to lessons that are now driven by technology.
In the traditional school model, educational administrators plan the curriculum and choose a textbook that satisfies the content criteria. Unsurprisingly, this model is less valuable in Chromebook schools where innovative apps help shape educators’ ideas for delivering content and evaluating student performance.
District technology staff often research educational apps to generate a list of approved programs, but teachers are still left to decide how and when they implement them. Yet, the greatest drawback to this setup is the disparity of tech literacy among teachers, which automatically creates inconsistency in the curriculum.
For many administrators, the answer is to hire specialists who understand the goals of technology integration and curriculum, especially as schools evolve to meet changing Core standards. Cedar Falls Community School District in Iowa recruited Brian Unruh, an integration specialist, who dedicates time to observing classroom lessons and routinely surveying teachers to refine the district’s technology resources and learning management initiatives.
As teachers have the most insight into classroom productivity, Cedar Falls included faculty in the decision to purchase Google Chromebooks. With an integration specialist in place, teachers were able to receive training Chromebook troubleshooting tips from an expert. Throughout implementation, Unruh was on hand to evaluate the needs, obstacles and teaching goals of individual educators, helping them find the best resources to mold an engaging curriculum.
Cost is always a factor in Chromebook one-to-one programs, and districts may be unable bear the extra financial burden of hiring new technology staff. The Port Huron Area School District budgeted to hire technology coaches, but the district’s most beneficial resource is the Digital Convergence Initiative formed from 30 existing faculty, administrators and IT staff.
District administrators initially recruited enthusiastic, tech-savvy teachers who welcomed the technology integration to work with IT specialists to design effective blended-learning programs. These early adopters became the backbone of the Digital Convergence Initiative, and their authority on both educational and technology planning makes them uniquely suited to create efficient content management systems for the entire district.
Not only does creating tech teams from IT and teaching staff cut long-term costs for the district, but it also allows reluctant educators to explore the Chromebook’s capabilities under the guidance of colleagues they already know and trust. The end result is district-wide collaboration that fosters the continual evolution of curriculum and filters out potential obstacles that could compromise student success.
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