Forsyth County Schools is entering a new era in the use of classroom technologies. For many, many years we weeded out all the extras and focused our efforts on growing a standard set of hardware and software. Through this effort, our students and teachers were able to expand learning in powerful and important ways.
More recently though Forsyth implemented a Bring Your Own Technology Program (BYOT). It’s been the most transformational instructional program I’ve ever been involved in, and after 21 years in education that’s saying something!
New thinking is springing up, not just about the tools we allow our students to use, but about the way we provide all Instructional Technology Services. We’re branching out beyond pushing a standardized set of software tools because we have seen the benefits of allowing students to choose their tools in our BYOT program.
That said, there are two guiding principles for instructional technology that we want to flourish in Forsyth County Schools. First, we have adopted Grappling’s Spectrum of Technology Uses (created by Bernajean Porter). Our efforts are focused on growing into transformational uses of technology where students are information producers, not consumers and where we expect students to go beyond existing information. Oh there’s so much more to say on that subject but I’ll save it for another post! The second is our focus on the 4 C’s of 21st Century Learning including Creativity, Communication, Collaboration and Critical Thinking.
We’ve created a garden of software tools that support the 4 C’s while offering learners of all ages choice. No longer will we be focused on weeding down the tool set to only one option but rather we’ll nurture a number of options. That doesn’t mean users can’t branch out in other directions, just that as a department we’ll be focusing on a few that we can help thrive across the district. The Forsyth County website – Tools for Learners, designed by Kathy Adkins expands on the connections among tools and the 4’Cs. And be sure to see Tim Clark‘s piece on his blog, BYOT Network, about teaching the 4 C’s in BYOT.
So what are your thoughts about our new approach to supporting instructional technology in Forsyth County Schools? Is it too overwhelming? Are you happy to see us acknowledging that there are many tools and that teachers AND students have choice? I’m anxious to hear from you.