Sitting inside the comfort of a Sampson Middle School classroom, students Elias Faison, Carter Brewen and Kristina Parker traveled more than 4,000 miles to the streets of Rio de Janeiro.
Their journey was courtesy of the Virtual Reality System and part of the district-wide initiative to immerse students into the process of learning through the use of technology.
This system is just one of the many ways students are learning via technology, and utilizing funds procured through a Digital Learning Grant. The technology staff for Clinton City Schools is asking for students, parents and other community members to complete the Speak Up survey, which provides data that not only served as an integral part of CCS receiving the $44,115 grant, but will be used by the CCS Digital Learning Team and CCS administration to guide decisions about digital learning in Clinton City Schools.
Deadline to complete the survey is Jan. 26, and it can be completed by going to the district’s website.
“In the past three years, Clinton City Schools has made great strides improving technology infrastructure and access for students and staff,” John Lowe, director of technology, said.
During this drive for a technology revamp, Lowe said the district has been able to procure and deploy 2,000 Chromebooks, and used Erate funding to procure and deploy wireless access points in every classroom.
Clinton City Schools has been a Google LEA since 2015, which means all teacher and student storage has been transitioned to Google Drive. In spring 2016, 600 Chromebooks were purchased. In the summer of 2016, the technology department discarded 36 Dell Dimension series computers that were originally manufactured in 2003 and 2004. By 2019, Clinton City has a goal to have the average age of all digital devices to be six years old or less.
According to Ron Davis, technology teacher for Sampson Middle Schools, equipment like the Virtual Reality System allows students to travel to other places and learn by using hands-on technology. In his classroom, students not only have an opportunity to travel to other countries to learn about the culture, government and lifestyles of those citizens, but take a journey through the human body and learn about the different systems inside.
“The Virtual Reality System is cross-curricular and gives teachers an opportunity to bring other subjects into the classroom,” Davis said. “It’s a hands-on introduction to what is out there.”
Lowe said the district would like to expand the student access to technology and open more options for them.
For Faison, Brewen and Parker, technology is how today’s students like them learn.
“Technology is more efficient and quicker than a book,” Faison shared. “Allowing us to use technology like the Chromebooks and Virtual Reality System has us well-prepared for the future of technology.”
Despite data showing that teachers continue to utilize technology as a presentation method, Brewen says his teachers utilize technology in other ways by allowing the students to use Chromebooks for the majority of their assignments. Most teachers are using Google Classroom for assignments — something that is two fold by giving students an opportunity to use the technology while learning and saving on paper.
“Being able to use Google Classroom for the majority of my assignments makes it easier and it’s helpful,” Brewen said.
Google Classroom gives students the ability to work on assignments at home, not just at school.
The Speak Up survey is a research tool districts use to learn what students, educators, parents and the community have to say about education issues.
The Speak Up Research Project for Digital Learning, a national initiative of Project Tomorrow, is both a national research project and a free service to schools and districts everywhere. Since fall 2003, Speak Up has helped education leaders include the voices of their stakeholders in annual and long-term planning. More than 5 million participants have made Speak Up the largest collection of authentic, unfiltered stakeholder input on education, technology, schools of the future, science and math instruction, professional development and career exploration. National-level reports inform policymakers at all levels.
Educators from more than 30,000 schools have used Speak Up data to create and implement their vision for the next generation of learning.
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.