On September 30, 2013 Greenwich Public Schools (GPS) announced that it successfully launched Phase I of its Digital Learning Environment (DLE) Initiative.
The DLE will serve as a catalyst for embracing the Common Core standards, personalizing teaching and learning, and preparing students to be successful on the new standardized assessments, which will be field tested beginning in Spring 2014.
The District has already accomplished a number of the deliverables outlined in the April 2013 Board approved Digital Learning Plan: Across the District:
• Director of Digital Learning and Technology Phillip Dunn began in August and is charged with oversight of the DLE as well as all digital and learning information, and technology systems. Click here to watch Mr. Dunn discuss his new role.
• All schools are engaged in advancing digital teaching and learning through various trial and pilot programs.
• Phase One Schools: Riverside and Hamilton Avenue Schools were selected in May as the first two schools to phase-in the “one-to-one” (1:1) deployment of devices to staff and students.
• November LearningTM has been selected to provide professional development for staff at the Phase I schools. The team from November LearningTM has already visited classrooms and met with teachers at Hamilton Avenue and Riverside Schools.
• After an extensive review, the Apple iPad has been selected as the device for grades K-5. The iPads will be deployed to the Phase I schools this Winter, after the staff has had an opportunity to receive professional learning and develop lesson plans using the new instructional resources.
Director of Digital Learning and Techonology Phillip Dunn talked to It's Relevant about why the iPad was chosen. Dunn said "The Digital Learning Advisory Committee (DLAC), a group comprised of 40 teachers, school and district administrators, parents, and instructional coaches, conducted an extensive review of various market-leading tablet devices (Chromebooks, Surface Tablets, the Amplify Tablet, etc...) before recommending the Apple iPad to the Steering Committee (SC).
"The iPad far outscored the other solutions in both the Ease of Use and Software categories. The District has an existing deployment of iPad devices that has received positive feedback from teachers (including a robust app store with many iOS apps already being used in Greenwich classrooms); DLAC believed giving teachers a different device to learn would impede changes in practice to implement digital learning."
"We must transform teaching and learning in Greenwich to prepare our students to identify and solve tough problems, be they academic, economic, social, or political,” said William S. McKersie, Ph.D., superintendent of schools. “Problem solving will depend more and more on an array of digital resources that are accessed by individuals and by teams. Greenwich students - to be ready to succeed in college and career - must be immersed in a school environment rich with teachers and learning opportunities drawing on digital tools. We are off to a strong start in Phase One. We have assembled a top-notch leadership team and developed an excellent management plan, including attention to accountability and evaluation.
The DLE rollout begins in two of its elementary schools, Riverside and Hamilton Avenue, with professional learning for staff on instructing with digital resources, and the deployment of personal devices to each student and teacher. The DLE will expand the 1:1 initiative to all schools by the 2015-16 school year. In the meantime, our other elementary and secondary schools are advancing their experiences with digital teaching and learning through various pilot and trial programs.
As part of the Phase I deliverables, the district has conducted an in-depth analysis of devices and has chosen the Apple iPad as its tool for digital learning in grades K-5.
Starting in January 2013 and over the course of the year 1,000 iPads will be rolled out to all administrators, teachers and students at Hamilton Avenue and Riverside Schools.
Mr. Dunn said "The key thing to remember here is that these devices are tools intended to enhance the differentiated teaching and personalized learning strategies that are already used in the district. The context of the educational problem will dictate the usage in every situation. We expect to broaden the breadth and depth of students' access to information from multiple sources. In a math class, students may trace outlines of shapes over photos of a space whose area they are attempting to estimate. They may research historical events from other countries' perspectives using the web. All of these activities will give teachers greater insight into the development of their students by creating a more robust palette of data resulting from the students' device usage.
Dunn added "This is an exciting time for Greenwich Public Schools... We are fundamentally changing the educational paradigm. Everyone has something to teach and learn from one another and we can do this more easily now that we can connect across time and space.”