The next generation of education
As Jhone Ebert, the District’s chief technology officer says, “We are in the next generation of education.” Though our economy isn’t what we’d like it to be, I cannot in good conscience look a parent in the eye and say the quality of their child’s education isn’t what we’d like it to be because we lack the funds to do all we’d like. Fortunately, creative use of grant funds and advances in technology allow us to stretch the resources we do have and stay on the cutting edge of innovations in education.
Last week, we took a move forward with our 'e3: Engage, Empower, Explore' project at five of our Title I middle schools. The project provides iPads for all students and teachers at Frank F. Garside Junior High School, Roy W. Martin Middle School, Marvin M. Sedway Middle School, Jim Bridger Middle School and Ed Von Tobel Middle School. The 6,500 iPads were paid for using Title I federal funds that cannot be used for salaries or building improvements. If you’re not familiar with Title I funds, these are funds we receive from the federal government to further academic achievement at our schools with the greatest need and some of our most disadvantaged student populations. The students and their parents were excited about the new learning tool. One parent even told me she was going to learn how to use the homework tracker application on the device to better monitor her child's assignments.
If you’re not a parent, student or employee at one of those schools, you may be thinking, “Dwight, why is the District spending almost $2.5 million on iPads for students?” That’s a very good question. Part of our obligation to the community is to prepare today’s children to be tomorrow’s leaders. Pens, pencils and paper will go the way of the dinosaur, replaced by today’s computers and, eventually, tablet devices. Our plan is to eventually have all students using electronic devices to supplement and further their education, and we got off to a running start this month. I’m confident that the e3 Project will lay the foundation for some amazing things to happen in this District in the years to come.
As we look forward to tomorrow, I’m not overlooking what we have today. All of our schools have computers with Internet access that bring the world to our fingers. With a little creativity and dedication, that access unlocks endless possibilities for learning. Our students spend a lot of time with social media. While we adults may not always understand it, social networking sites are a wonderful way to find out what our students are interested in and make connections. Outside of the classroom, our students can do great research and collaborate with classmates without having to travel to a neutral location. And, for our students who need to make up credits, they can enroll in distance education and take classes around their schedules.
The next generation of education is here and I am committed to making sure our students are prepared to use technology for a lifetime of learning after they leave our schools. I know all of you are, too, and I’m excited to see what we can do together.
If you have feedback, you can email me at email@example.com or on Twitter @dwightdjones.
Superintendent Dwight D. Jones