VIP Focus: Teachable Moments: How Technology Can Deliver Them to the Classroom

DashBoard, May 25, 2016

Submitted by Judy Wright, Consulting Partner, Plante Moran

As technology becomes an ever more essential part of daily life, schools are challenged to find ways to embed it into curricula and to look for opportunities to leverage technology that don’t overburden their increasingly constrained budgets. Advances in technology are transforming K-12 classrooms across the nation, changing not only what students learn but how they learn. Here’s a look at the top trends having an impact on how schools are designing and funding their technology initiatives.

One-to-One Learning

In its purest form, 1:1 computer learning entails issuing a device to every student. The tab for this can be quite high, and it ties teachers to using a device that may not be suited for all types of lessons. Another approach is the “right device for the right task.” Rather than providing each student with one device, a school has a supply of several different shared devices that are more suitable for specific tasks.

Bring Your Own Device

Some schools are turning to a BYOD policy as a more affordable model. Not every child has access to a laptop or a tablet, so schools may still need to supply devices to students with financial needs. Ideally, districts should consider combining BYOD with district-purchased devices in order to provide equal opportunities to all.

Flipped Learning

With flipped or inverted learning, students receive instruction at home via readings, videos or podcasts—and do homework in the classroom when the teacher is available to help them. According to the 2014 Speak Up survey, 48% of school technology leaders chose flipped learning as one of the approaches to digital learning that has yielded positive results in their schools.1

Open Educational Resources

Online educational materials that exist in the public domain or that have an open license offer benefits that go beyond a nonexistent price tag. Perhaps one of the most important is that they allow teachers the flexibility to create a customized learning experience for students.

Cloud Computing

Many districts are looking at cloud options for specific applications, and are becoming less reliant on Microsoft Office applications and opting for Google Apps instead, which is free, hosted, gives students email access and gives teachers access to resources remotely without the need for technical support. One of the main concerns of cloud computing is security. Having an effective approach to data classification will help schools understand what level of security is appropriate when moving to the cloud.

Smart Technology Calls for Smart Strategies

Technology is evolving all of the time, and it can be difficult to keep up. Districts cannot afford to jump on every technology trend simply because it’s the latest “Big Thing.” School districts are acutely aware that without access to technology, their students will be at a disadvantage. Funding is always an issue, but districts can look for ways to maximize existing resources, take advantage of tools that are free of charge, and use technology to reduce costs and free up funds for what is ultimately the mission of every school—making their students avid learners and the best they can possibly be.

Judy Wright is a partner and leader of Plante Moran’s education consulting practice. Plante Moran is one of the nation’s largest accounting, tax and consulting firms and offers comprehensive services to K-12 education clients. The K-12 team has worked with more than 200 school districts, ranging in size from 1,000 to over 100,000 students, and includes auditors, CPAs and consultants across multiple disciplines.

VIP Focus articles are company-sponsored advertisements and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of MASB. It’s intended to provide Very Important Partners with a space to share information of value to you and your district.

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