Creating a Digital Culture

Thank you to our guest bloggers: Clint Winter, Instructional Technology Coordinator, and Chuck Bell, Superintendent of the Elbert County School District.

Creating a digital culture

As a School Superintendent and as a District Technology Coordinator we both are often asked: “How and why did your district decide to go 1:1?” Our school district has been 1:1 in some form or fashion for a number of years.

Initially funded through a grant through the University of Georgia we were able to give Windows devices to students in the 11th and 12th grade. As the grant ended and expenses began to mount and as Google established a strong presence in K-12 education it became clear that we needed to make a commitment to Google Chromebooks.

We were able to fund our Chromebook initiative through money collected from a special local option sales tax. Also, it helps us meet the state of Georgia’s mandate for 100% online state required testing.

When we made the commitment to Chromebooks we also are making a commitment to collaboration and creation.

We wanted to connect our students and teachers with both curriculum and new opportunities. Actually, that is a big reason we decided to get Chromebooks! Our Chromebooks booted up faster, we have unlimited storage, and we are able to collaborate in real time all the time. Students are also able to access their documents offline.

Keeping with the theme of collaboration and creation ,we wanted to alleviate fears by letting teachers know that from a District perspective. We knew they will have both success and failures with the new devices in their classroom. We also wanted to remove barriers by offering tools such from Texthelp and GoGuardian. Also, we wanted to make sure that we were using best practices and have worked with Amplifed IT to maximize our Google Admin console.

For Professional Development our school district embraces the SAMR model. It is important that our students Chromebooks are being used intentionally. We offer personalized paths for our teachers to learn and lead about using technology for more than substitution.

Some of our teachers go through Google Certification, others attend Edcamps, we are promoting building our own Personalized Learning Networks. Our administrators are offering teachers to choose professional learning in the building and also encouraging their teachers to screencast new things that they have learned. We tweet the good things we are doing in our classroom and use the hashtag #Bluewayondisplay to expand our audience and learn from educators across our region, nation, and the world.

We are continuing to build a culture that supports every student every day and knows that this cannot be accomplished without the support of our students, community, teachers, technology staff, and administrators. Building a dynamic culture that encourages risk-taking and embracing new styles of learning is truly a team effort. 

Part of creating a sustainable eco-system within EdTech is ensuring the voices of those who implement that technology are heard and that said technology provides tangible solutions. Making the decision to move forward with a technological initiative isn’t taken lightly and it requires the support of an entire school system. Funding, implementation, digital environment, strategy, maintenance, professional development of staff, the list goes on – and yet these decisions are made and life-altering shifts in how we teach and learn proceeds.

In the past year, Amplified IT has provided services for over 1,485 school districts; supporting nearly 14 million students in amplifying their Google Workspace and Chromebook adoption, but what does it mean? What is our impact? For us, our impact is often revealed through the success stories we hear from those we support. 

One such success story comes from the Elbert County School District in Elberton, GA, which is located just outside of Athens.

Their IT department and the team here at Amplified IT have together supported the school districts initiative to go 1:1 with Chromebooks, migrate to Gmail from a legacy email system, and now we continue to support their team and initiatives through Google Workspace tools to ensure their journey with Google for Education is successful.

This article was originally posted by Free Technology for Teachers on November 11, 2018.

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  • Chuck Bell
    Superintendent, Ebert County School District

  • Clint Winter
    Instructional Technology Coordinator, Ebert County School District

  • About the Authors:

    Chuck Bell is the Superintendent of the Elbert County School District. You can follow Chuck on twitter @Chuck_Bell_

    Clint Winter is the Instructional Technology Coordinator for the Elbert County School District. You can follow him on Twitter @ClintWinter. Clint is the author of TheFridayTechTip which is updated every Friday during the school year. You can listen to the Edtechrewind podcast he co-hosts with Dr. Lee Green.