One of the significant changes that will be coming to the Project SMaRT program this year is the introduction of the Windows operating system and the suite of digital design tools from Adobe Systems known as the Digital School Collection. There’s a simple reason why this is being done–to expand the reach of the program by making digital design software available to a larger group of teachers in our district.
Understandably, there’s been some worry on the part of program participants that we’ll be moving away from the Apple platform and the iLife series of products that you’ve learned to use over the past few years. While there will be additional opportunities to learn new software, it is not our intent to stop supporting Apple in any way. In fact, another component of what this project will be doing this year is increasing and expanding the support for Apple computers by fully incorporating them into our IT infrastructure.
Still, the fact remains that the standard desktop computer that all teachers have access to is a Dell computer running Windows, and that won’t be changing soon.
One of the tenets of the stimulus funds being offered this year is to make bold, strategic, system-wide changes that support the goal of preparing students for the modern workforce. Our district is embracing this goal through your participation in Project SMaRT in a number of ways. A key component of the work we need to equip you to do is to reach out to more teachers and share with them the skills and pedagogical underpinnings of the kinds of hands-on, digital projects that you’ve learned to employ in this project.
From the two charts below you see the effect that expansion to the Windows platform will have on the access that teachers have to these kinds of tools. While the 500 or so teachers involved in NCLB: EETT projects have had a significant impact on literally thousands of students, the total percentage of teachers who are using these kinds of tools remains low. By expanding to the Windows platform the program will be able to reach even more students and teachers as we go forward. (You can also see that we still have a long ways to go.)
In the ongoing discussion that SMaRT Ambassadors are having with members of the Educational Technology team we’re mapping out how things will progress this year with two big goals:
- Continue to build individual capacity by training teachers on how digital design software can be used to support student learning
- Build school-based capacity by developing a cadre of mentors and trainers who will work with their fellow teachers.
To achieve these goals we’ll need you to continue your own professional development and to begin thinking about ways you can share with your colleagues on your campus the great things you’ve been doing. By adding Windows and a standard package of digital design tools we hope to significantly expand the reach of the program and address the goals of the NCLB grant by making access to these kinds of tools widespread throughout our District.