By Tricia Kennedy
Gwinnett County Public Schools, Georgia’s largest school district and the 13th largest in the nation, expanded the walls of the classroom this fall with new technology resources that foster collaboration and nurture creativity and innovation.
The resources are a part of the district’s eCLASS (digital Content, Learning, and Support System) initiative, an integrated enterprise solution to enhance student engagement and the learning process which includes the Curriculum and Instruction (C&I) Tool.
Serving nearly 169,000 students, the district faced some harsh realities several years ago:
- Gwinnett classrooms did not necessarily reflect how students learn today nor the world for which we are striving to prepare them;
- To differentiate learning for students, GCPS needed to use technology to embrace the dynamic capabilities of digital content and leverage innovative learning approaches;
- The existing textbook model was not cost-sustainable nor did it provide the desired flexibility found in a digital content model; and,
- There was a need to integrate the many disparate systems into a more useful and user-friendly system that could have a positive impact on teaching and learning.
With this in mind, GCPS partnered with IBM to provide the knowledge and know-how to integrate new teaching and learning tools into our existing infrastructure and capabilities. For example, IBM’s Smarter Education team is overseeing the integration of mobile technology into the classrooms in a device agnostic way, assisting in the implementation of analytics, while delivering digital content via key industry instructional applications and the use of mobile devices, driving creativity and flexibility in both learning and teaching.
While eCLASS is still in its infancy, we are excited about the possibilities of our shared vision. Once fully implemented, it will bring together curriculum and instructional resources, assessment, professional development, student information, and grading functions in one place.
In addition to providing teachers with more information about their students’ learning needs and about their own teaching strengths, eCLASS is enhancing how students use digital content, building on their interests and capabilities. In doing so, we hope to make learning more real and relevant to students who have never known a world without technology.