District 65 students continue to adopt technology use for in-person learning


Daily file photo by Patrick Svitek

Candidates for the Evanston/Skokie School District 65 Board of Education discussed their hopes for the school district during a forum Thursday.

Olivia Alexander, Senior Staffer

Students in Evanston/Skokie School District 65 returned to in-person learning this fall, but they didn’t leave their iPads and laptops at home. Instead, devices will continue to be incorporated inside and outside the classroom, the district’s technology team said.

District 65 adopted a one-to-one technology program during the pandemic, allowing students access to their own portable device. Middle school students receive Chromebooks and elementary students get iPads, said Jamila Dillard, District 65’s director of social sciences and instructional technology integration.

“All of our students have devices that are taken home and brought back to the school,” Dillard said. “That means that every student, whether they’re in class, or home because of illness or COVID, or whatever the reason that they’re out of school, they can still participate in the school day.”  

The one-to-one program means no student has to ever miss instruction, Dillard said. They are still able to find assignments, interact with classmates and ask their teachers for help, he said. 

As for inside the classroom, Dillard said devices don’t take the place of books and pen and paper, but they can serve as useful tools to work on projects and in learning centers. 

“These technologies are just used to enhance the learning experience, not to replace it,” Dillard said. “We want to make sure what we’re doing in our classrooms is not replacing face to face contact with educators, but just enhancing what educators are already doing.” 

Students aren’t on their devices all day, District 65 Instructional Technology Coach Gary Cipinko said. Just like a student turns a calculator off when done using it, he said students will use technology when it’s appropriate and needed. 

Cipinko said technology is a broad term, ranging from computers and Smart Boards to handheld devices. All types of technology are used as supports for student learning, he said. 

“We have these devices, and (we ask) how we are using them to support our students’ learning, to the best ability,” Cipinko said. “The one great thing about having devices is you have the opportunity to give students a lot of student choice, (and) they’re able to choose different ways to show their learning.” 

Cipinko also emphasized the importance of technology use for collaborative classroom experiences. He said Google Classroom is an excellent platform for working together on documents and teachers to give live feedback. 

Nicholas Lamb, a District 65 innovation facilitator, said educators have the opportunity to lean into pandemic takeaways. Students and teachers have learned to value their autonomy and individuality in learning, and technology is one tool to help students become more curious, he said.

“When it’s a notebook, it’s more limited,” Lamb said. “But when you have at your fingertips a vehicle that houses a myriad of options, it really allows for individuality, expression and understanding.”

Email: [email protected]ern.edu

Twitter: @oliviagalex

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