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Area schools look to Schalmont for technology, digital learning

March 1, 2016

Schylerville respresentatives visit SchalmontSchalmont Central School District is getting a reputation as a go-to school for technology in the classroom questions.

The district has made great strides in integrating technology and digital learning this year. Schalmont has branched out with new technology that includes Chromebooks, district-wide WiFi, and a Meraki network system. When integrated with the district’s learning management system, Schoology, and Google Apps, this technology helps teachers create unique digital learning opportunities for Schalmont students.

Interest in Schalmont’s use of technology was piqued when Schalmont students and teachers were among the 700 school leaders, educators and students representing more than 130 school districts at the Northeastern Regional Information Center’s 27th Annual Regional Technology Awareness Day on Dec. 11.

As a result, representatives from area schools are coming for visits to see how all the pieces fit together and glean insights and lessons learned from our staff.

“Ever since the presentation, we’ve had a lot of follow up from other districts about what we are doing at Schalmont,” Schalmont Technology Integration/Department Coordinator John George said. “Many of these schools are deciding on which devices or systems to implement in their own districts, and they are looking for the real deal assessment. We offer very candid overviews and an honest conversation of how the hardware and software have impacted learning in our district.”

Schalmont’s use of Schoology and Google Apps in the classroom, along with the implementation of the one-to-one Chromebook initiative, use of Chromebook carts, and the district’s Bring Your Own Device policy have led to some innovative practices in the classroom that have caught the eye of other school district administrators. Recently, representatives from Schuylerville and Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake schools have stopped by to observe some of the technology pioneering taking place in Schalmont classroom, which includes:

• A digital literacy class for sixth graders

• A flipped math class where students watch instructional videos created by their teachers at home and work on assignments or projects in class

• The use of virtual textbooks and virtual labs

• Real-time interactive exams with immediate scoring

• Collaborative classroom assignments that allow students to work directly with the teacher as well as their peers

• An increased blending of laptops and Chromebooks as a vital learning tool beyond just word processing

Other schools are interested in the back end, or how the district is able to sustain a network that supports such rapid technological growth.

Recently representatives from Schodack and Cobleskill-Richmondville met with Schalmont’s Technology director and department staff, who demonstrated the district’s network systems and interfacing as well as answered questions about how the district implemented the Chromebook and Bring Your Own Device policy.

“They want to see how we set up and how we manage our programs,” Schalmont IT Director Terri McCreadie said. “And we are happy to share what we’ve learned along the way.”

Schalmont is one of the first districts to convert fully to a Meraki network, which has the added benefit of allowing McCreadie and her staff to manage the system through the cloud, which means they can use their smart phones to always know what’s happening with the system.

“We now have wireless in every inch of the district,” she said.

As Schalmont continues to implement its five-year technology plan, its staff will continue to raise the bar on how to innovatively merge technological tools to create exciting new ways of digital learning.

“This is our first year with this new technology,” George said. “We are working together to learn more about these tools, experiment with them, and collaborate together to create new and exciting ways of teaching that engage and excite our students.”