School Design Panel Discusses Digital Transition

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Digital Leaders Share Strategies for Digital Success

Late last year, the Learning Counsel featured a group of important panel discussions as part of their 2018 National Gathering in Houston. These panel discussions were informal discussions by district leaders around pressing issues in the world of education.

A discussion about school redesign featured executives from Denver Public Schools in Colorado, Denton ISD and Lewisville ISD, both from Texas. The panel was moderated by Herb Miller, Director of Education at OverDrive, the leading digital reading platform for classrooms and libraries in K-12 education.

How to create Digital Transformation at Scale

Carolyn Hughes is the Director of EdTech and Library Services at Denver Public Schools, one of the nation’s largest districts with over 200 schools. She purchases digital content and works with digital adoption and the professional development necessary to enact a digital transition.

Mike Mattingly is the Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction at Denton Independent School District, a diverse district north of Dallas that cobbles together part or all of 18 separate cities and towns. His primary goal has been the marriage of curriculum instruction with technology and says his top priority has been ensuring the teachers remain the top focus and have the highest quality professional development, which comes from both the curriculum instruction and the technology side of the house. All of the planning is done together, and each has representatives on the other’s design teams.

Robin Stout is the Administrator of Media Services and Emerging Tech at Lewisville ISD, a district of 53,000 students that manages low class size, high teacher pay and an astounding 97 percent graduation rate. Robin works in the Digital Learning Department, a bridge between the Teaching and Learning Department and the Technology Department. Robin has a passion for building capacity, particularly in the Teaching and Learning Department, helping instructors get hands-on with materials.

Factors That Influence Better Implementation in These Districts

Mike Mattingly said it has been helpful to focus on a few areas instead of many. “You go fast by going slow,” said Mattingly. “The slower you go, the more opportunity you have to gain traction. If you go too fast, you’ll start slipping and sliding and your people will not have success, they’ll throw up their hands and say ‘I told you this wasn’t going to work.’ But if you go slow, spoonful by spoonful, it tells your teaching staff what we’re going to do is going to be around a while so we’re going to talk about it a while. With every professional development session we have, we’re going deeper and deeper. Secondly, we want things to be user friendly, not only for our students but for our teachers. Thirdly, there has to flexibility and nimbleness to what we do. We want a consistent message, but sometimes our message changes.”

Robin Stout is in year-five of a 1:1 integration for grades 4 through 12 in her district. “There were times when we were first rolling it out that it felt like we were trying to drive a semi-truck up a mountain bike path,” said Stout. “It was actually the opposite of moving slowly and methodically even though we had a solid plan in place because the transition was so great in less that a year. We had a lot of folks that relied very heavily on support and coaching. When we did our textbook adoptions over the last several years, we very meaningfully chose those resources so they would be digital and available on the student iPads. We used train-the-trainer and bootcamp models to train our teachers and were very deliberate in that process. Now that we have been in it a few years, the students are so acclimated to living digitally that it is now an expectation.”

Carolyn Hughes recalled that Denver Public Schools decided to go with a middle school digital science curriculum, which was the first time they had adopted any digital science curriculum. “We really pushed to be professional partners,” said Hughes. “We flew out with the curriculum team for professional learning. In the first week of class, our team was in the classroom to partner with teachers on that facilitation. We now meet biweekly to talk about how implementation is going.” Because Denver doesn’t have strong libraries in all their buildings, Stout said that building a digital library was very important. “Our eBook program was a way of ensuring equity across all neighborhoods and all schools. One of our focus areas was culturally-responsive education. We were able to curate our collections so all our students were represented.”

Watch the Video

This is just a small bit of this very informative discussion. Click on the video to watch the panel and learn the acquisition and implementation strategies of these three very successful districts. It’s a great way to gain perspective for your own digital transition.


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