District Administration - June 2012 - (Page 57)
Technology from The cIo perspecTIve
By Courtney Williams
The ideal way to use digital textbooks is in student groups.
Mobile App Pilot Sparks Interest in STEM
About 200 students attending National Academy Foundation (NAF) schools, which offer industry-focused curricula in urban public school districts, have been designing their own mobile applications during the spring semester thanks to a partnership between NAF and Lenovo and with cooperation from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This partnership is teaching students the skills needed to flourish in the ever-expanding mobile app market after high school. Lenovo donated high-powered All-in-One PC desktops and ThinkPad tablets to five schools, including Apex High School’s Academy of Information Technology in Apex, N.C., Pathways to Technology Magnet School in Hartford, Conn., Downtown Magnets High School in Los Angeles, Grover Cleveland High School in New York City, and A.J. Moore Academy of Information and Technology in Waco, Texas. Students used IBM’s Eclipse programming software to develop their apps. Working in groups of five, high school students in the 12-week afterschool pilot program had to produce three components for their culminatStudents at Apex High School’s Academy of Inforing project: a business plan, a working mation Technology in Apex, N.C. test their mobile mobile app, and a strategy to bring apps on Lenovo ThinkPad tablets. the app to the Android market. “This exciting program engages students via the technology and apps they use every day, and by partnering with NAF and MIT, we’re delivering a rigorous and relevant curriculum that will help create our next generation of developers and entrepreneurs,” says Michael Schmedlen, director of worldwide education at Lenovo. According to JD Hoye, president of NAF, some students are developing apps to teach theoretical concepts. Some groups are trying to figure out how to teach abstract concepts in math and science by using multimodal strategies such as audio or touch. Mike Newman, founder of the Mobile Development Institute—a nonprofit organization dedicated to quality education for mobile technology platforms—says inquiries from vocational high schools and community colleges have increased immensely for computer programming and mobile development courses, but they likely won’t be part of the core public school curriculum anytime soon. “There is a shortage of students pursuing careers in STEM, but partnerships like Lenovo and NAF can get students excited and better prepare them for careers in fields such as computer science, which is critical to the booming mobile technology industry,” says Newman. Lenovo, MIT and NAF are currently analyzing data collected during the pilot to determine whether they will expand the curriculum next year.
Digital Textbooks That Integrate Formative Assessment
For Collier County (Fla.) Public Schools, an urban district of 51 schools equipped with document cameras, interactive whiteboards, projectors and fiber-optic Internet connections in all classrooms, adopting digital textbooks made perfect sense. After using Discovery Education products for the last decade, CCPS chose the company’s new series of digital textbooks, dubbed Techbook, for all elementary and middle school science classes. The digital textbooks were funded by cutting back to class sets of traditional textbooks. According to Curt Witthoff, curriculum coordinator for K12 science and environmental education, Techbook has the ability to build formative assessments quickly, administer them, and use the data to inform kids about what they need to do to master a concept, which is one reason CCPS chose this digital textbook. “The formative piece gives teachers an opportunity to understand where students are, where misconceptions may be present, and how to scaffold learning to foster greater understanding,” says Traci Dami, director for instructional technology, professional development and media services. Witthoff says that a common misconception is that only one-to-one districts can use digital textbooks effectively. “A digital program does not mean students should just be in front of a computer,” he explains. “It’s ideal for students to work in groups at stations—one activity on the projector, some kids working with computers on online activities, and other students working on offline activities.”
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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of District Administration - June 2012
District Administration - June 2012
From the Editor
Geography Ed for a Flat World
Her Own Brand of Education Reform
Finding a Cure for Senioritis
Principals as Instructional Leaders
One Tablet Per Child?
Changing Lives With Assistive Technology
District Administration - June 2012