Boulder Schools Embrace Digital Age

The digital tsunami sweeping the nation’s schools just got a hall pass in Boulder Valley.

Like many school districts across the country, Chromebooks are taking a front row seat in Boulder public schools, as the district officially launches its 1:Web initiative.

The formal kick-off was earlier this month when the 1:Web pilot program at Centaurus High School received its first batch of the Web-based devices for the freshman class.

More Fluid Learning 

Pronounced ‘one to web,’ the initiative’s name “signifies a fundamental shift in teaching and learning in our district,” according to Andrew Moore, Boulder Valley School District’s chief information officer, in his Ed Tech blog.

The goal of 1:Web is to put “the world at your fingertips” when learning. The initiative’s team aims to integrate digital devices into schools to forge a new fundamentally different way of teaching and learning.

“It’s about the students,” says Moore. “It will make the learning experience more fluid and engaging.”

Under the plan, each student will have a BVSD Google Apps for Education account. This gives each student password-protected Internet access to a personal ‘cloud’ hub and a collection of word-processing, spreadsheet, email, publishing, and other Web-based tools used to collaborate and communicate with teachers and other students.

Transformative Teaching

The way Moore’s team and teachers at the forefront of the initiative describe this new approach makes you want to go back to primary school all over again.

For example, the deliverable of ‘turning in your assignment’ is giving way to the more dynamic action of ‘publishing’ your work.

“It’s been a total transformation in my classroom,” says Diane Bohan, participant in BVSD’s 21st Century Cohort for Teachers and Schools and teacher at Angevine Middle School. “Kids are learning to access information from the world, and it’s so exciting, it’s so much better.”

The 21st Century Cohort is one example of programs in place to change instruction in BVSD. This group of teachers are undergoing professional development to be instrumental at ensuring implementation of the technology vision at each school.

Timely Feedback on School Work

With the cloud-based approach, teachers are able to give students more ownership of learning and more immediate feedback on class projects.

Moore’s device plan is to “put a Chromebook into the hands of many students.” Though access to the Google account is not platform dependent—users can log in through a tablet, laptop, desktop, Chromebook, or smartphone—the initiative is being implemented through the rollout of Chromebooks.

While Centaurus High School is the pilot program for the initiative, other Boulder Valley schools are beginning to implement the 1:Web environment. Monarch High School, Eldorado K-8, and Angevine Middle School have a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) program, and Bear Creek Elementary has a Chromebook program for fourth- and fifth-grade students.

One of the major hurdles to overcome when expanding digital connectivity at school is bandwidth. Boulder Valley has an extensive fiber network and has worked with schools for the past several years to improve WiFi access. And, thanks to the passage of 3A, networking switches will be upgraded over the next three years to increase Internet bandwidth to one gigabyte, which will support the higher demand for Internet services.

Learn More

Schools can add 1:Web with their own funding, prior to the planned rollout by BVSD, by contacting BVSD Ed Tech to learn about program requirements.

 

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