District 65 to provide middle schoolers with iPads in technology program


Daily file photo by Allie Goulding

Evanston/Skokie School District 65 superintendent Paul Goren at a meeting. District 65 plans to provide its middle schoolers with iPads beginning the 2018-19 school year.

Catherine Henderson, Assistant City Editor

Evanston/Skokie School District 65 will increase access to technology for its students with the rollout of a 1:1 program in which each student at the middle schools and magnet schools will receive a device.

Stacy Beardsley, the assistant superintendent of curriculum and development, presented technology updates to board members at a meeting last Monday at the Joseph E. Hill Education Center. She said the program will begin in the 2018-19 school year, with all 6th graders receiving iPads in the fall. It will then expand to students in other grades in future school years.

“The iPads create an opportunity to shift the ways in which we allow students to demonstrate what they know and can do,” Beardsley said. “We also have additional multimedia capacities where students frequently will reach out and find other ways to demonstrate their learning through video and audio, which is easier and has greater mobility on the iPads.”

Beardsley said the district has been focusing on improving technology access for almost four years. Chute Middle School and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Literary and Fine Arts School started the technology rollout with iPads and Chromebooks, Beardsley said. Using funding from the spring 2017 District 65 referendum, the district will continue the technology rollout, she said.

The district held several focus groups to gather student and teacher feedback about technology that they’re using, Beardsley said, adding that the groups stressed access and innovation as important features.

“(Teachers) said the technology really allowed them to differentiate and allowed them to be increasingly responsive to kids’ interests and needs,” she said. “It creates much greater flexibility for us as teachers and educators.”

Board president Suni Kartha emphasized the district is providing as much support as possible for teachers in the rollout, including professional development workshops and online seminars over the summer.

Beardsley also said the district would create two new “innovation coach” positions to support teachers. Kartha said these positions would be funded by the District 65 operating referendum.

“It’s great … that we have this shift in thinking about technology and understanding it and supporting staff,” Kartha said.

Beardsley said the district will use the “Triple E Framework,” a technology model from the University of Michigan, in its new iPad program. The three Es are “engagement in learning goals, enhancement of learning goals and extension of learning goals,” according to the framework’s website.

The framework centers on learning objectives instead of the technology itself, Beardsley emphasized.

“(Triple E) talks about shifting kids from being passive to active social learners,” she said. “If we challenge kids to address problems, to take on challenges, to take greater ownership of how they’re going to attack their learning by giving them tools, they can become increasingly active in their learning.”

Superintendent Paul Goren praised Beardsley and her staff at last week’s board meeting for their work and research to facilitate the continuation of the district’s technology outreach.

“This is such a wonderful intersection of high quality teaching and learning, innovation and equity,” Goren said. “(This is) really a marvelous next step.”

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Twitter: @caity_henderson