Baltimore County Public Schools are beginning to use Tablet PCs in their classrooms. The machines which are switchable between tablet mode and laptop mode are used in many ways by the students. The program is called S.T.A.T. (Students & Teachers Accessing Tomorrow). The district says the program is “A fundamental shift in teaching and learning to meet the Blueprint 2.0 Theory of Action.” It is supposed to be personalized learning for every student.
The S.T.A.T website states…
BCPS is first redesigning curriculum in the core content areas to redefine what instruction will look like in a blended learning environment, while placing a stronger emphasis on critical thinking and analytical skills. This transformation is necessary to provide personalized learning to our increasingly diverse student population at a time when the economy requires more from our students for future success.
The first year of the program (this year) it was implemented in several elementary schools. Next year, 2015-16, it will be in ‘Lighthouse’ schools – ten elementary schools and seven middle schools. Each year the program will expand to more county schools and step up in grades so that once a student have moved to the digital mode they will continue through their K-12 schooling.
The program involves one to one technology. Each student has a laptop that is theirs. This year they each had a device but left them at school. Next year they will begin to take them home to do homework and will be tasked with charging and maintaining the devices. Schools are being rewired to expand wireless and broadband infrastructure. Each school is setting up a printer management system for the school. The system in linked into the BCPSOne information system that allows students, teachers and parent to check on grades, schoolwork, schedules, etc. And the curriculum is being redone for the personalized learning and digital environment.
One of my daughters who is in 5th grade this year and attends one of the lighthouse schools has been a part of the project this year. I must say that I was skeptical (given my background with technology I really didn’t believe the school system could manage such a change) but the system has worked very well this year. For the first year the project has been a gradual start as is prudent, but there has been real movement toward the digital future.
With the expansion of the program next year I am watching to see how sustainable the program will be. However, at this time it has been handled very well and I am optimistic that continued focus on the program can bring about a major change in how our K-12 education is delivered and managed.