Texas districts use Web 2.0 tools

Two Texas school districts are successfully integrating technology into the learning environment and improving community engagement. Sheldon and Denton Independent School Districts (ISD) shared their strategies at the Texas Computer Education Association (TCEA) conference in Austin TX recently in a presentation called "Your Investment into the Future: Making the Right Choice in the Right Technology."

At Sheldon ISD, educators have embraced social media tools ranging from the superintendent's blog to a Facebook page for keeping alumni engaged, to using Twitter to keep everyone informed about a school closing during a snowstorm - all from within the secure district website, run on the Schoolwires Centricity platform.

"The website also is a strong tool for promoting student success," emphasized Denise Smesny, instructional technology coordinator at Sheldon ISD. "And our students and their families really love the scrolling photo gallery that shows our students engaged in learning and fun."

Throughout Denton ISD, there is widespread adoption of technology tools that are accessible from within the secure Schoolwires platform for teaching and learning. Students routinely access teacher websites to gain information, retrieve assignments, blog with their teachers and peers, download podcasts and/or vodcasts as well as forms and surveys for voting. Blogs are used for assignment feedback, extra credit, class discussions, sharing ideas and homework help. Podcasts are used for downloading oral instructions, vocabulary words, spelling words, and more. Some classes are using them to showcase student work.

The district also is an avid user of Centricity's e-Alerts, electronic alerts which can be transmitted instantly to an unlimited number of email addresses and mobile devices provided by registered members within a district. Campuses and teachers use content e-Alerts to notify parents and students of school and classroom news, events, or unexpected school closures. Many campuses send alerts for back-to-school registration.

"We take 21st century learning tools seriously and the ease of use and accessibility of these tools within the secure Schoolwires platform has really fostered widespread adoption," said Carolyn Thomson, webmaster, Denton ISD.