T.H.E. Journal recently reported on an Illinois school district’s methods for infusing technology in the classroom. As is common knowledge, K-12 school districts nationwide are often challenged by some teachers accepting and incorporating the technology immediately with others failing to grasp the necessity and reverting to traditional methods.
The superindendent of Westville Illinois Community District II attributes his success to ongoing professional development as well as an IT based learning atmosphere.
Even before winning a series of grants, his district had historically been well equipped with more traditional classroom technology. After the grants, the inventory expanded to include more tools of the 21st Century like newer LCD or DLP projectors, whiteboards, slates, response systems, document cameras and flip video cameras. The future will include HP tablets and iPads.
The significant element of this story is the plan that was put into place in order to ensure the technology would not rot in the AV supply room. In addition to the solid year spent determining which technology the district would buy, They applied for and won a $250,000 Enhancing Education Through Technology[EETT] grant to ensure ongoing development. For many months following the new equipment installation, teachers were forced to stretch the limits of comfort and figure out how to effectively use the technology in their classrooms. Ironically, it was technology that held them accountable. Particularly effective was the use of Flip video cameras. Teachers were expected to create a project that would show viewers the impact being made in their individual classrooms by the successful integration of technology. They were not being evaluated on what was right or wrong because there was no right or wrong. They were simply held accountable for documenting and presenting what transpired in their classrooms. They were forced to become creative, not forced to acquiesce to a specific IT mandate. Ultimately, they delivered.