Area Educators Meet to Discuss a Digital Learning Plan

(Gillette, Wyo.) The Wyoming Department of Education met with educators from around Northeast Wyoming Thursday evening at the Staff Development Center. The WDE is preparing a statewide education plan to try and maximize student use of technology in the classroom. The state will be submitting a five year road map for digital learning in August, and needs input from local educators to shape it. "This is not just implementing technology for technology's sake," said one WDE presenter. "It's to enhance student's learning." The round table discussion included representatives from Campbell County and Upton, spanning education at the Rockpile Museum to Gillette College. Feedback was kept anonymous by the Department of Education, but it was all documented to be included for a statewide plan. The idea was to gather concerns and needs for current and future students, to keep adapting the ways they can utilize technology in the classroom. "We want the tools to be seamless, for students to be able to take responsibility for their own learning, and give them the opportunity to broaden their horizons," said Campbell County Tech Director Lyla Downey. [image: 005bca8c-7743-4c4c-9f30-452c1bb76092.jpg] A video played during the session demonstrated how smaller school districts in more remote areas of the country have been allowing students to use their own personal devices in the classroom as part of their education. Everyone shared the advancements they are currently undertaking in an effort to evaluate what can be added: Upton started a personalized learning plan for grades 6 through 12. Kids are able to go to computer labs to listen to their lessons. But it's just in the beginning stages. Sage Valley and Twin Spruce will begin a virtual reality computer programming curriculum. The students will use 3D glasses and create code that will build a digital world they can explore. Certified technology integration specialists are present in every school for Campbell County and it's making a difference. Six months ago bandwidth at the schools was horrible, but the more devices and use there is in the system, the better things have become. But there is room for improvement: Some teachers still think "digital learning" means going to the computer lab to work on their math homework. "We'll get there eventually, but it's still new," said Downey. The main concerns were about a possible downturn in the economy. Funding for technology in classrooms is often a second thought, but not every child has their own smart phone or internet access at home. Upton sees bandwidth in the area as a possible stumbling block. Staff development to prepare teachers for using new technology is also expensive. Another concern was building a policy around providing security not only virtually for data stored with the district, but also the physical protection of actual data closets and servers. The listening sessions have two more stops, in Laramie and Cheyenne. #county17 #news -- *Brenda Kirk* Community Maven for | 614.940.7121 Twitter | Instagram | Facebook PitchEngine™ | *Connecting Communities* | Twitter | Facebook