Digital Learning Becomes Reality at 2 Greenwich Schools

Riverside School media specialist Fionnuala Browning	works with students to set up their iPad Air digital learning devices during the distribution and initial training all students received in their classrooms.
Riverside School media specialist Fionnuala Browning works with students to set up their iPad Air digital learning devices during the distribution and initial training all students received in their classrooms.

After months and months of planning, digital learning has become a reality in Greenwich Public Schools.

Last week, 800 iPad Airs were distributed to Hamilton Avenue and Riverside School students as part of Phase I of the Digital Learning Environment (DLE) implementation plan. The deployment of the devices means the school district has transitioned into creating a personalized learning environment for every student.

In April 2013, the Greenwich Public Schools launched a three-year, three-phase Digital Learning Environment (DLE) initiative to advance the transformation of teaching and learning and to accelerate the academic achievement and personal well being of all students. The DLE is designed to provide teachers with the resources necessary to both devise instruction according to the needs of each student and for students to personalize their own learning, making choices about how they learn and present their new knowledge.

Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction and Professional Learning Irene Parisi said,  “Greenwich Public Schools has taken a critical step to provide a viable support structure for teachers as they are expected to transform their teaching and the students' learning."

Parisi added, "Curriculum comes to life in a new and deeper way through the use of the technology, and the intuitiveness and functionality of the iPad. GPS staff, students and parents will have access to an increased amount of resources anytime, anywhere.”

School Superintendent William McKersie said the first phase of the digital learning program will serve as an example to the rest of the district, how students and teachers can adapt to new teaching tools.
"All students and teachers at Hamilton Avenue and Riverside now have iPad Airs and are demonstrating for the rest of the district how digital tools can be blended into teaching and learning on a school-wide basis to help all our students excel," McKersie said. "We are closely supporting, monitoring and cheering these teachers and students."

The DLE will help teachers and students access the strategies and resources to expand learning possibilities for high-achievers, while helping ‘middle achievers’ to improve, and to plug gaps in achievement for struggling learners. The program is to be implemented over three years. By the 2015-16 school year, each student and teacher in the district will have their own digital device.

According to Riverside School Principal Christopher Weiss, "Our teachers are already at work implementing lessons and providing learning experiences for their students that greatly expand upon what was possible in the classroom only a few days ago.”

The iPads will increase and improve student engagement and the ability to really transform traditional teaching and learning, said Hamilton Avenue School Principal Cynthia Womack.  

The use of the computers is designed to help students meet Common Core standards and other district initiatives and prepare students for the SBAC tests, the new standardized assessment, which requires the use of a digital device beginning with a field test of the assessment this spring.
Richard May February 26, 2014 at 06:37 AM
Is there any credible evidence (blind testing and comps) that digital devices improves learning? On the same tangent, does the Kindle produce better literacy scores? Surely, there must be some evidence to evaluate trends. I do not know the answers to these questions, but clearly a digital devices is a different learning experience for students. My question as a parent would be: "Is digital learning more effective and what - if any - negative social and educational side-effects can these devices trigger?" Frankly, I haven't seen much credible evidence to support the benefits.
CowDung February 26, 2014 at 03:00 PM
Like it or not, digital devices are here to stay. I see no reason for schools to avoid embracing the technology. From my own personal experiences, my older son is better with his reading when he has a traditional book. The Kindle offers too many distractions and often takes away from his reading.


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