Note: For the next seven Wednesdays over the summer, be sure to check out the Neenah Joint School District website to see what’s “New for NJSD in 2014-15.” Each week a feature will be posted with something new to look for during the upcoming school year. The first feature looks at the new Digital Learning Plan for 2014-15, which includes iPads for students in grades 3-6 and Chromebooks for students in grades 7-9.
New for NJSD in 2014-15: District Unveils New Digital Learning Plan
Students in the Neenah Joint School District will get even more hands-on technology use when they return to school in 2014-15 with the District’s new Digital Technology Plan.
The primary aspect of the plan is to have every student in grades 3-9 with an individual iPad or laptop for the upcoming year. Students in grades K-2 and 10-12 will also have plenty of opportunities for technology use with shared iPads and laptops.
The Board of Education has emphasized technology for several years with the 2013-14 school year marking the final year of a three-year Digital Learning Initiative that culminated with students in grades 4-8 working on individual iPads during the past year. This year, students in grades 3-6 will have iPads, while students in grades 7-9 will work on Chromebooks.
“The focus will be primarily web-based applications,” said Director of Instructional Technology Chad Behnke, who presented the plan to the School Board on March 4. “It will be different for eighth and ninth grade teachers and students who had iPads last year, but the Chromebook will be able to access all of the same web-based applications.”
Chromebooks are a typically less expensive laptop designed to be used when connected to the Internet. However, users are able to access Google applications such as Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Drive in offline mode. Chromebooks also come with a built-in local music player, a photo editor and a PDF and Microsoft Office document viewer that are functional without internet access.
Students in grades 7-9 will be able to bring their Chromebooks home, though parents can opt to have their children keep their Chromebooks at school. The same content-filtering software and policies that are in place during the school day will apply if students take their Chromebook off the District network.
Each elementary school will have iPads available for its students in grades K-2 with one iPad cart per grade level. High school students in grades 10-12 will have daily access to mobile labs that consist of MacBooks. The Chromebooks are the only new purchases for students in 2014-15 as the iPads used by seventh and eighth graders last year will be the devices used by students in grades K-3, while staff members previously used the MacBooks.
The Digital Learning Plan has four goals: student achievement, effective teaching and learning practices, access to information resources and learning tools and support systems and leadership.
The devices provide the latest in professional productivity, design and collaboration software. The District employs both public cloud technologies such as Google Apps for Education, iCloud and Schoology and private cloud technology such as Infinite Campus to provide access to instructional resources and software from nearly any personal computing device.
Teachers and staff will have opportunities to learn about the iPads, Chromebooks and Google applications through voluntary summer workshops offered by the Instructional Technology staff. Classes for credit through Marian University are also being offered in Neenah this summer to enhance the teaching staff’s technology skills.
The complete NJSD Digital Learning Plan can be found at: http://www.neenah.k12.wi.us/academics/instructionaltechnology.cfm