When students have choice in how they demonstrate their knowledge and to learn using the technologies that are an integral part of their daily lives, engagement in learning increases and students thrive.
This is what you see when you walk into Mr. Gatlin’s 9th grade biology classroom. “I really don’t lecture anymore. Now we’re hands on, we’re working all the time. The tablets really enable me to maximize engagement,” notes Ron Gatlin during a recent visit to his classroom.
Northwest Independent School District, located northwest of Fort Worth, Texas, is a school district that has embraced technology in learning for a number of years. Led by Superintendent Dr. Karen Rue, recently selected as one of eSchool’s 2014 Tech Savvy Superintendents, Northwest ISD has a mission to ensure students are ready for college, the global workplace and personal success.
Educators at Northwest ISD believe that, as 21st century citizens, students must have many skills to succeed in the digital age. This includes the ability to use digital media responsibly and effectively to communicate, synthesize, and create new knowledge; solve problems and analyze critically; construct new ideas through original and innovative thinking; and exhibit vision for personal learning and forward thinking to prepare for the future. (See full list http://www.nisdtx.org/Page/2550)
When district leadership decided to refresh their aging student netbooks, they brought together a committee of teachers, administrators, community members and most importantly, students, to create a vision for what learning should look like in their district. “The key people in that were our students. Their voice is invaluable in determining what we’re doing for them,” observes Dr. Damon Edwards, Executive Director for Secondary Education.
A key criterion for selecting a student device was to select a hardware and software solution that was robust enough to enable kids to produce meaningful work to demonstrate mastery of their knowledge, and to be able to produce it in a variety of ways. Giving kids choice in how they learn and how they demonstrate that learning is critical to enabling them to own their learning, to increasing their engagement and, ultimately, to improving student outcomes.
Another consideration was to choose a device that fit within Northwest ISD’s existing IT infrastructure in order to simplify deployment and make ongoing management easier. Additionally, Northwest wanted a vendor with robust support capabilities so they could keep the devices in the hands of the students for learning.
The committee evaluated several options and decided the Dell Latitude 10 delivered the functionality, manageability and support needed to support student learning. Dr. Edwards also noted that Northwest and Dell have a strong relationship. They know that Dell is interested in making a long term commitment and will continue to grow that relationship.
In August 2013, every high school student received a Dell Latitude 10 tablet, running Microsoft Windows 8. Middle school students will receive a Dell tablet this Fall.
“We see the impact that technology can make and that it is making and that it is going to continue to make. We’re purchasing a device, but we’re investing in our students.” – Dr. Edwards.
Watch the video below to learn more about Northwest ISD’s 1:1 learning initiative: