NEW PALESTINE — After years of planning, all students in the Southern Hancock School District are deep into their first year using one-to-one computing.

Now, the real learning can begin.

Educators say having computers to provide to each student was the first goal, the tip of the iceberg. Now, educators are on the learning end as they try to find the best ways to use one-to-one computer to their advantage.

“We’ve had a lot of growth, but there is a lot more growth in the future,” curriculum director Rhonda Peterson said. “I kind of feel like we are turning the page on the past six years and are moving to a new chapter.”

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The district hopes the process will be made easier by the Consortium for School Networking’s Teaming for Transformation program.

The Consortium for School Networking is a professional association for district technology leaders. The association specializes in creating and supporting a digital learning environment that reaches every student and every teacher, which helps educators more fully utilize the vast educational opportunities that come with incorporating technology in the classroom.

“This group selects 10 to 12 school districts (nationwide) per year to be part of the team,” Peterson said. “It is pretty prestigious to be selected.”

Southern Hancock is one of only four Indiana school districts selected to be part of the program since its inception three years ago. Selected districts must show a commitment and dedication to digital conversion and be willing to share their technology information.

“It’s about how can you utilize the tool to transform learning,” Peterson said.

As part of the national program, several district administrators recently traveled to Mooresville, North Carolina. They went to a district with about 6,000 students that has had access to one-to-one technology for seven years.

While there, district educators learned more about the long-term effects of digital learning.

“It was great having discussions with educators on what has worked and hasn’t worked for them,” Doe Creek Middle School Principal Jim Voelz said.

At Doe Creek, students are four years into the digital conversion. He said they feel good about where they are as a building, but he knows they have room for improvement.

“The best way to improve is to see it in action at very successful schools,” he said.

Voelz said it’s not just about having computers for every student but making sure educators are creating the right kind of culture for students and staff to flourish.

Peterson said the district in Mooresville has seen a dramatic increase in graduation rates in special populations thanks to one-to-one digital learning.

“In their African-American population, the graduation rate went from 67 percent in five years to 95 percent, the third-highest in the state of North Carolina,” Peterson said.

Superintendent Lisa Lantrip came up with the idea for the district to apply and become a part of the national support program in its third year. Southern Hancock officials were poised to not only learn from other corporations but to offer up their own expertise, she said.

“We’re right there with the one-to-one initiative, and we’ve got our teachers creating content,” she said.

What Lantrip likes most about being part of the program is how it allows district officials to communicate with other districts across the nation that are deep into digital conversions in the classroom.

“You can really truly begin to have the support that you need as well as continue your change,” she said.

District officials feel strongly that education is not simply offering digital technology to students but utilizing it properly.

“We’re changing the way we teach, and this will give us the support that we need,” Lantrip said. “It will also help us get to the next level.”

Lantrip said it’s good to be leading the way when it comes to educational transformation, and Teaming for Transformation gives teachers the support to do it.

“Our teachers are out there in front of everyone, and they need that support from people who are also doing the same,” Lantrip said. “This is not just about the device; it is about enhancing education.”

About the program

The Consortium for School Networking selects schools across the country each year for its Teaming for Transformation program.

The program aims to:

  • Leverage technology to create and grow engaging learning environments.
  • Develop leadership for the digital conversion.
  • Build a culture of instruction with digital resources and tools.
  • Create and support a digital learning environment that reaches every student and every teacher.

Core beliefs:

  • Technology is a critical tool to personalize learning.
  • The primary challenge is using that technology effectively.
  • Access to technology is a necessity for all students.
  • Technological fluency allows children to be prepared for the future.

Source: cosn.org

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Kristy Deer is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3262 or kdeer@greenfieldreporter.com.