NEWARK – Teach. Learn. Connect.
That’s the new mantra in Worcester County’s public schools as educators prepare for the digital conversion they have been advocating for. TLC, also known as Teach Learn Connect, is the sign-on platform that will connect students and teachers with new resources as schools progress toward a 1:1 (one digital device for every student) goal.
“It’s going to change instruction,” said
Diane Stulz, coordinator of digital learning and instruction for the school system. “It’s going to change how our students learn and connect with the rest of the world.”
TLC is the platform that students and teachers will take advantage of this fall as they begin the school system’s transition to using digital devices. In September, each and every one of the county’s ninth graders will be given a laptop to use as they progress through high school. For an annual fee of $35, which covers the cost of insurance for the devices, students will have access to their laptops at home and in school throughout their high school careers.
“Our goal is at the end of the four years the device is theirs,” Stulz said.
Though just ninth graders are being assigned devices this year, the idea is that ninth graders each year from now on will be given laptops as they enter high school. Stulz says the devices will enable teachers to personalize learning, provide students with instant feedback, offer individual assignments and customize instruction. Students, who will benefit from the enhanced communication with their teachers, will have a digital resource at their fingertips.
“They don’t have to go to the library,” Stulz said. “This is real time research. They can have the most up-to-date information.”
Stulz said a lot of research went into which devices to purchase for students. The school system eventually opted to purchase 680 iPads for use in elementary schools, 725 chromebooks for use in middle schools and 597 laptops for use in high schools.
“We spent a lot of time being thoughtful about how we proceeded,” Stulz said. “It’s taxpayer money so we needed to be conscientious.”
Laptops were deemed the ideal device for high school students because they were sturdy and would allow students to work online as well as offline.
“It’s a productivity machine,” Stulz said.
She stressed that while the computers would become a regular part of the classroom, the key to a student’s education would remain the teacher.
“This is a tool,” she said.
To go along with this fall’s implementation of the new digital devices, the school system has increased its focus on promoting cyber-civility.
“All of this ties in,” Stulz said.
A social media task force, made up primarily of assistant principals from throughout the county, spent the past few months creating a list of best practices and adjusting the student code of conduct to address social media use. Guidelines have been created for students and teachers.