Monday, December 15, 2014

Space By metalyman (Labeled for non-commercial use)
Star Trek
'.....To boldly go where no man has gone before.' 

Westford's Version: 
'.....To boldly go where few have gone before.' 

I’m relatively new to Westford Public Schools, but one thing that immediately stands out to me, is that we do not blindly follow popular educational trends. Before we dive into new initiatives, we consider what’s best for students and learning outcomes, while spending taxpayer funds as judiciously as possible. In my opinion this is a very good thing and is one of the reasons Westford was recently named by Nerdwallet as the “Best School System For Your Buck in Massachusetts.”

How does this impact our transition to a Digital Learning Environment?
It means we will not jump into a Digital Learning initiative which focuses primarily on putting computers on students desks. We will start by considering learning outcomes and research the best ways to support student learning with technology, so we can achieve our learning objectives. Our approach is not a quick fix. Some may want things to move more quickly and get devices into the classrooms sooner. We are committed to increasing the number of devices in our schools  as quickly as possible, based on our Vision for Digital Learning and available funding.

You can feel reassured that Westford is not alone in our approach. 

Many experts agree with us including Alan November. In this article “Why Schools Must Move Beyond 1:1 Computing” , Alan argues against focusing on devices in 1:1 initiatives. “Adding a digital device to the classroom without a fundamental change in the culture of teaching and learning will not lead to significant improvement. Unless clear goals across the curriculum—such as the use of math to solve real problems—are articulated at the outset, one-to-one computing becomes “spray and pray.”

Our Vision for Digital Learning here in Westford does just that. It focuses on the culture of teaching and learning. Our Digital Learning Plan is our roadmap to achieving our vision. I think it’s a fabulous plan (but I am a little biased). The plan includes our vision, goals, timelines and action plans that clearly clarify what we need to do to be successful. More importantly, it identifies how we can review our progress towards our goals, and gather data that will help us make modifications to keep us on course. We will not be blindly following the plan without reviewing how we are doing.

So stay tuned for the next post. I will be discussing our progress so far towards our Digital Learning Plan goals, particularly the professional development that we have implemented.

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