Equipping the 21st Century Classroom
Although many of us dislike the term “21st century,”
we can all agree that the notion behind it—the need
to reform education to meet today’s and tomorrow’s
learners—is still valid. And while most districts are just
at the cusp of figuring out what 21st century learning
is and how to deliver it, the technology leaders at the
SchoolCIO Leadership Summit in Chicago have already
begun figuring out some of the key elements: providing
more bandwidth, focusing on resources, and working
with leadership to get everyone on board.
Q The 21st Century Classroom is less about products and more of a mindset.
Technology is such a fast-moving target. Increasingly
our focus is less about adding more devices, which we
are challenged to find funds to purchase, and more
about providing services that teachers and students can
consume. Examples of this include pervasive wireless,
a learning management system, email, and BYOD
support. There is still a very valuable role for interactive
whiteboards, projectors, etc., but the roles are more
supportive. Those devices also tend to be more teacherfocused
and less learner-focused.
—Steve Young, CTO, Judson (TX) ISD
We know what we expect from our students in terms of 21st century
skills, but who can predict what technology will be available next
year and beyond? We have started playing around with defining
the functions of different types of technology and then identifying
how each function can support 21st century instruction. For example
laptops can be used to access and produce information, collaborate,
and access simulations. If we develop lessons that take advantage of
these functionalities, then—when the next laptop-like device comes
along (e.g, the iPad?)—we will know how to use it in the classroom.
—Rick Cave, director of technology, West Windsor-Plainsboro (NJ)
Regional School District
“We stay away from the
term 21st century. It’s
overused, a cliché. We say
Are any products
essential—now or in the
future—for a 21st Century
When we surveyed our students at the end of
last year, 99 percent said they use technology
outside of school but only 72 percent said they
use it in their classes. A large majority said
they would like teachers to use online tools to
support them outside of the normal school day.
The key ingredients to this are devices (BYOD
or district-provided), wireless connections,
Internet access, and an LMS or other means of
collaboration. Oh yeah, and lots of professional
development and support.
A mobile device for every student;
bandwidth, bandwidth, bandwidth; moving
from print to digital resources; and teacherfriendly
data tools and easy access.
—Jean Tower, director of technology,
Public Schools of Northborough and
Lots and lots of bandwidth, both wireless
and Internet. Wireless connectivity is the
backbone to one-to-one and BYO initiatives.
But we also need wireless bandwidth to
support communication between devices,
including projectors and HDTVs.
Personalized learning plans for each and
every learner, resources that meet specific
needs and assess learners using the right
tools with appropriate real-time student
data, and cutting-edge assistive technology
so that every student can learn. Technology
may be able to beam us from school to school
and class to class. Certainly, the need will
continue to grow for increasing bandwidth.
—Sheryl R. Abshire, CTO, Calcasieu Parish (LA)
Everything is moving to the Web. Lots of
bandwidth is needed! We have doubled our
bandwidth about four times in the last five years.
—Alice Owen, division director of
technology, Irving (TX) ISD
How are learning spaces changing to accommodate blended/
online learning, flipped classes, collaborative projects, and
Learning spaces need to be more flexible so that we can easily and quickly create spaces for small
working groups or use the space more appropriately for the activities that support learning. We
see a future where the library becomes the digital center of the school.
Learning spaces are no longer limited to the classroom. Hallways, cafeterias, courtyards, and
playgrounds are all wireless. We can facilitate learning anywhere!
—Paul Sanfrancesco, director of technology, Garnet Valley (PA) School District
‘‘Every student needs his or her own device.
We don’t share pencils; we shouldn’t share