Self-driving cars? Robots taking away jobs? A cell phone around the wrist? There was a time not too long ago when all of this seemed far-fetched. But not anymore.
We live in a world where cars park themselves, smart home assistants answer questions and adjust the thermostat and more information than we know what to do with is at our fingertips. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg that is technology today. The rate of change being driven by technology is fascinating, exciting and scary all at the same time, and keeping up with it is a real challenge -- in both our personal and professional lives!
Like most businesses and organizations, schools are not immune from the impact of technology and the influence it is having on how and where we do our work. As with anything, there are pros and cons, but at the end of the day, technology is creating an opportunity for us to make teaching and learning more engaging, personalized and meaningful. And, quite honestly, our students expect it. This is why I have made the integration of technology into our classrooms and the learning environments we create a focus for Mariemont City Schools.
In October, while our students were enjoying fall break, our staff was participating in a technology-themed professional development program called Techademy. Our teachers learned from world-renowned education technology experts Will Richardson and Eric Sheninger and participated in courses demonstrating the different ways they can can implement technology into their instruction, use tech tools to grow professionally and create more meaningful learning environments . Our teachers were challenged to grow their pedagogy and respond to the ever changing landscape being shaped by technology. I’m proud to share that the response was tremendous .
Since the October Techademy days, I have seen so much growth in technology implementation in our classrooms. More teachers are using tech platforms like Flip Grid to boost student creativity -- a site where students answer questions with short videos then share their posts with classmates. Google Suite is being introduced in classrooms to help teachers and students interact seamlessly and securely across devices. We now have many teachers using virtual reality. These computer systems, complemented with a headset and hand controllers, can transport the students anywhere in the world. Mandarin classes can participate in scavenger hunts across the Great Wall of China while science classes can get a first-hand look at the inside of a human body. Our experienced STEM students are even working on creating their own virtual reality programs. These are just a few examples of how we are using more of the tools that technology offers to enhance what we do -- yet I recognize that we still have a long way to go.
And as the demand for technology in schools increases, so does the difficulty of our current BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) program. For this reason, as we shared a couple of weeks ago, Mariemont City Schools has announced its plan to transition to a 1:1 program, allowing all students and staff members to work off a single platform, making collaboration easy and effortless. You can read the introductory letter from Brent Wise, the Director of Technology and Strategic Initiatives, here. This transition is the logical next step for us to create the type of teaching and learning experience our students need and expect.
With the world around us constantly changing and evolving, my commitment to you is to make sure our school district keeps up -- after all, we need to if we want our students to remain competitive with their peers around the globe. I am proud of our teachers for their willingness to keep learning, growing and expanding their practice. They are helping us turn our scholars of today into leaders of tomorrow.
For a more in-depth discussion on our current classroom technology, the 1:1 movement and the future of this educational philosophy, listen to our December ConnectME podcast which will be released later this month.