The $3,000,000 requested for mobile technologies in the FY 2015 Operating Budget directly supports the district’s strategic thinking about technology for teaching and learning. The MCPS 2014–2016 Strategic Technology Plan that was shared with the Board of Education on May 30, 2013, frames a vision for how MCPS has begun to reimagine learning in a connected, digital age. In addition, the plan also highlights the forces that are both pulling and pushing us to this future. Specifically, the plan summarizes how digital and mobile technology are changing how we live, work, and learn, and therefore is driving us to adapt and integrate these technologies to create inspiring and motivating learning experiences.
This funding will support the purchase of mobile devices, enhanced warranty coverage, and the software that enables teachers to easily manage and support students as they use these devices. A variety of learning opportunities for teachers are available and planned. This includes CPD classes, supporting teachers during their collaborative planning time, co-teaching with and coaching teachers during instructional time, providing just-in-time quick guides and online recorded modules, and working with teachers before and after their school day to support them in integrating these technologies in impactful ways with their instruction.
The $3.0 million request in the FY 2015 Operating Budget enhances the district’s ability to systematically move forward in integrating greater customizable and flexible learning opportunities directly in our classrooms. Advances in mobile, social, information, and cloud technologies are facilitating these new opportunities for how we teach and learn. The convergence of these four technologies (our students and staff are already deeply immersed with these technologies outside of school) present tremendous opportunities to redesign our learning environments. Since mobile devices (which include laptops, tablets, and hybrid laptop-tablets) wirelessly connect to the network and can be recharged out of the way, we can integrate these technologies into existing classroom configurations and support teachers as they implement a variety of technology-enhanced, student-centered pedagogical strategies.
The systematic integration of the mobile technologies along with the interactive, multimodal pedagogical strategies they support promotes deeper, more customizable, and collaborative learning options for our students. Moreover, to prepare students to succeed in college and career pursuits, MCPS schools must have the ability to use instructional resources and pedagogical strategies that incorporate the technologies that are part of daily life outside the classroom. Consequently, the $3,000,000 requested for mobile technologies in the FY 2015 Operating Budget is a critical step in supporting the MCPS 2014–2016 Strategic Technology Plan’s vision for classroom communities as follows:
- digital curricular resources offer students multiple opportunities to integrate challenging content, represented through different mediums including text, video, audio, graphic, and multimedia formats;
- technology supports disciplined inquiry and making students’ thinking visible as they make sense of complex and real-world phenomena;
- there are ambitious expectations for all students, and the flexibility for grouping and access to learning is in place to meet their needs;
- highly effective teachers and all staff members have the resources and support to expertly engage students in digital learning and communicate with their parents/guardians about their progress;
- technology-enhanced formative and performance assessments are used effectively to make daily instructional decisions and to provide meaningful feedback to students that empowers them to own their learning; and
- technology is used to differentiate instruction and scaffold learning opportunities that meet the learning needs and diverse backgrounds of all students.
This vision for learning requires greater access to a variety of digital, mobile, and multimodal technologies to create the inspiring and engaging learning experiences our students and staff are demanding.
In addition to being an integral part of students’ everyday learning experiences, the integration of the mobile devices this budget request supports also will enable MCPS to comply with the state’s PARCC online assessment requirements. The new state assessment requirements expand mandatory online testing to students in grades 3-11. The Maryland State Department of Education’s recommended PARCC testing requirements specify a one-to-one computer-to-student ratio within the largest tested grade level. To comply with these testing requirements, MCPS will need a minimum of 18,000 additional PARCC compliant devices to be able to complete the state’s assessment within the prescribed testing window.
Practically, there is not sufficient space in our classrooms to accommodate 18,000 or more desktops across our schools. Furthermore, desktop and computer lab-based access do not provide real-time access to technology-enhanced learning opportunities, loses time in transition to the labs, and is not aligned with the future of technology and learning. By contrast, given the smaller sizes, increased processing power, ability to connect wirelessly, and the options for power management of mobile devices, those models that satisfy the prescribed size and processor requirements are ideally suited to support creative, engaging classroom learning experiences and facilitate the administration of the PARCC assessment. Mobile learning devices are an essential part of providing students meaningful opportunities to engage the curricular content from the perspective from which they will be assessed on the state’s new performance-based assessments. Moreover, the introduction of mobile devices also will accelerate our work to transition the MCPS assessment program to a fully computer-enabled platform.