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Russeau: The 'Why' of 1:1

Food, water, shelter. We all rely on these basic necessities, but in this day and age we might add one more to the list: Technology.

Our society expects immediate and uninterrupted access to digital information. It’s estimated that over two billion people use the Internet, performing 31 billion searches on Google every month. And with the exponential growth in mobile device use (over half of U.S. adults now own a smartphone), all of us are accessing more content and are communicating more frequently than ever before.

These stats reinforce the fact that at District 99, we must continue to adapt in order to make meaningful, transformational use of technology at our schools. In 2011, we made a major infrastructure upgrade and installed wireless access across the district. Then in 2012, we deployed mobile computers to all teachers and established ourselves as a “Google Apps for Education” district.

The stage is set to now challenge ourselves for the next logical step: moving to 1:1 computing. In general, 1:1 means providing each student with a mobile computing device and access to digital tools and curriculum materials. Significant numbers of districts across the country and locally are implementing 1:1 programs, and countless others are determining how to move forward. 

We are committed to moving forward with 1:1 at District 99. In order for it to be successful, however, we feel it must be completely focused on curricular goals and desired learning outcomes. Student learning plays the starring role at District 99, and it always will. Technology is a mere supporting character, and to be used to transform good teaching into something even better for our students. 

The next few months will be busy ones as we develop our vision for the role technology plays in student learning. We’ll first define what 1:1 means for us, and the corresponding instructional impact, opportunities and expectations. We’ll talk with our students, teachers, parents and other districts to help guide our planning efforts. After creating a vision, we’ll drill down to more specifics, such as our infrastructure and organizational readiness and which mobile devices offer the best solution in terms of performance, reliability and cost.

We at District 99 have always made sure that our teachers have the resources they need to teach and that our students have the resources they need to learn. Technology is and will remain one of those.

Rod Russeau is the director of technology at District 99, which includes North and South high schools.

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