An abrupt shift toward remote learning over the past few years has stretched K-12 education leaders, but it has also highlighted the benefits of incorporating digital educational technology in the classroom.
Looking back at recent changes and looking ahead at how classroom education will continue to evolve, now’s an excellent time to pause, take stock of what your district has learned and create a roadmap for where you want to go from here. As you plan your path forward, here are a few key areas to focus on.
First, assess your existing devices, connectivity hardware and software. Are they sufficient to enable digital learning for every student? If you’ve been considering a 1:1 deployment for your school — giving each student access to a district-supplied device to use for learning — now is the time to accelerate that investment. Cost-effective options for student devices include Android tablets and Chromebooks.
Also consider accessibility. If you currently don’t have a device for every student, will your campus Wi-Fi network be able to keep up with the influx of traffic from a 1:1 deployment? How will you ensure all students can connect their devices at home? Some student may not have reliable home internet access. One option is to provide devices that offer LTE connectivity, like Samsung’s Chromebook Plus.
If your district has already been using devices in the classroom, teachers are probably familiar with many of the compatible apps. Ask them — perhaps by creating a survey — what apps they’ve used, which ones help them and which ones don’t. You can also look to tools that monitor student engagement and progress, such as CatchOn, to help evaluate the effectiveness of your content investments.
Even for teachers who are comfortable with education technology, moving toward digital learning can be overwhelming. Ask them what kind of support they need, and provide them with professional development tools that will help them succeed both as online and in the classroom. Resources could include online professional development seminars, digital learning informational resources and forums where they can connect with other teachers to share ideas.
Unless your devices, apps and connection points are adequately secured, students’ and teachers’ private information could be compromised. Consult with IT professionals about what you need for strong cybersecurity, both on campus and when students are connecting from home. How will you track students’ device usage from afar? Which apps are more vulnerable to hacking and privacy concerns? How can you ensure compliance with the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA)? Provide ongoing cybersecurity training for teachers, staff and students to ensure they’re up-to-date on best practices and current threats.
Once you have a sense of your budget, spend some time exploring available technology tools, curriculum materials and professional development resources. If you need more than your budget allows, consider alternative funding options such as education grants (public or private) and crowdfunding. Analyze your spending to see where you can cut costs to offset an educational technology purchase. For example, if your district opts to close campuses for one remote learning day per week, you could save some money on utilities and other overhead expenses.
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As districts work to protect the health of their staff and students, some may close their doors for a few days or weeks at a time to curb local COVID outbreaks. Staying prepared will make it easier to shift gears should you suddenly need to switch to hybrid or fully remote learning.
While you’re making plans for the immediate future, take a step back and also consider your long-term goals for digital learning. What role will education technology continue to play in your district? Are there specific technology skills you want your students to learn? Will some amount of distance learning remain part of your normal operations? As you answer these questions and develop a roadmap for 2022, you’ll create a clearer vision for the future of K-12 education.
Get 17 multidisciplinary lesson plans to teach modern students with modern tools in this free guide. And explore more of Samsung’s innovative solutions for digitally enabled learning, in and out of the classroom.