The Jefferson County School District is certainly on top of technology, as it was named first in the nation by the Center of Digital Education as part of the Digital School District Survey.
The award came after an electronic survey was taken in school districts nationwide gauging how they integrate the use of technology in curriculum and district use.
Jeffco placed first in districts with more than 15,000 students.
“They look at the philosophy of using technology in the classroom, and whether technology drives instruction or instruction drives technology,” said Lorie Hirose, media production specialist for Jeffco schools.
The survey focused mainly on how each district uses technology in both operational and educational policies, said John Canuel, Jeffco’s executive director of education technology.
Sample questions included Jeffco’s incorporation of green technologies, server virtualization and electronic resources such as Parent Portal.
Parents can use the service to check their kids’ progress online. Parent Portal is available only to kids in sixth-grade classes at Governor’s Ranch Elementary, says Candace Ballantyne, teacher librarian at the school. But implementation for the fourth- and fifth-grade classes is coming soon, she said.
Ballantyne believes Jeffco is on the right track.
“We as a district really need to be up to the technology where the kids are,” said Ballantyne, “because that’s where they’re going to be listening; that’s where they’re going to be understanding.”
Ballantyne also stressed students’ willingness to learn in online social settings.
“The kids are used to using social connections, but what we want is for them to use those (connections) in an educational way.”
“It’s really not about the tools,” said Ballantyne. “It’s about how we’re using the tools to help students be 21st-century learners.”