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    focus logo   2015-2016 (Year 1) Technology Measures

    Beyond the traditional Academic Standards, students must also be prepared for the demands of a modern world and workforce. Research from Adobe Education notes that, “in today’s world, a proficient employee needs to be computer literate, visually literate, information literate, media literate, and digitally literate.” According to a report from the Partnership for 21st Century Skills “many of the fastest-growing jobs and emerging industries rely on workers’ creative capacity - the ability to think unconventionally, question the herd, imagine new scenarios, and produce astonishing work.” Technology assists in creating opportunities to develop these skills, but only if it is used on a regular basis. The North Allegheny Technology Advisory Committee (TAC) choose several success measure that the committee felt were indicators of effective technology use in the District. These success measures are:

    1. Evidence of online collaboration. Students use technology for online collaboration demonstrated by creation of files in GoogleDocs, sharing of files in Google, use of GMail, use of other Google tools, and the use of Nearpod.
    2. Increased use of blended learning. Student use of the Blackboard Learning Management System (LMS) to access coursework. To learn more about Blending Learning, click here to view an introductory video.

     Online Collaboration

    The Partnership for 21st Century Learning has identified  the 4Cs: communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking as the building blocks to 21st century learning and citizenship. These skills have been identified as being needed for students to be college and career ready, yet these skills are becoming increasingly complex and schools must rise to meet new demands. Technology is a key driver towards instruction that impacts student learning outcomes, both on assessments and for 21st Century learning skills. Tools like Google Apps for Education (GAFE) provide a platform where students can apply the 4Cs.

    North Allegheny School District adopted GAFE in 2009 and began using Google Apps with students in 2010. GAFE is different from the traditional Google Applications or the "Google for Work" product in a number of ways:
    • Google Apps for Education is free and Google has committed to keeping the cores apps free to schools;
    • ads are turned off in GAFE;
    • Google does not collect student data for advertising or to create ad profiles;
    • Email scanning is limited to virus and spam protection, spell check, relevant search results, and features like Priority Inbox and auto-detection of calendar events;
    • Each user has unlimited storage for Google Drive, Gmail, and Google Photos; and
    • Google provides districts with free tools to manage and monitor the GAFE environment.
    North Allegheny provides Google accounts for all students in grades 3 - 12 as well as all professional staff in the District. Within the District's Google environment, students and staff are able to utilize web-based word processing, presentation, spreadsheet, calendar, and site-based tools (to name a few). External email is available in grades 6 - 12, for the purposes of accessing online materials, textbooks, and Blackboard communications. District Google Apps accounts are housed within a "closed" domain, limiting the ability of students and staff to collaborate with individuals who are not affiliated within the North Allegheny domain.

    In January 2016, through funding from the North Allegheny Foundation, teachers were provided with access to Nearpod, an interactive presentation and assessment tool.  A teacher can create presentations that can contain quiz’s, polls, videos, images, drawing-boards, or web content. Teachers can share student work with the class and connect with their students in creative, flexible, and collaborative way.

    The graphs below show use of Google Apps and Nearpod during the 2015-2016 school year. As the graphs show, the students and teachers are utilizing these resources far more this school year than in past years. This is important because the research from New Media Consortium Horizon Report: 2013 K-12 Edition reports that regular use of technology in the classroom is a precursor to connected, transformative learning.
    Files Uploaded to Google Graph
    Google Docs file growth graph
    Graph of Google Slide Use  
    Graph of Google Sheets Use  
    Graph of Google FormsUse  
    Graph of Google Drawings Use  
    Graph of file sharing in Google  
    Graph of student g-mail traffic
    Graph of Nearpod Use  
     Click on any of the graphs for a larger view 

    Increased use of Blended Learning via Blackboard
    Blackboard, a Learning Management System (LMS), provides teachers with a tool to manage and shape student collaboration and communication which occurs within classrooms. Blackboard is the tool North Allegheny uses to deliver blended learning. An LMS provides:
    1. a consistent platform for communication among teachers and students;
    2. multiple ways for teachers and students to communicate and collaborate including: blogs, discussions, announcements, assignments, and assessments and feedback;
    3. an organizational framework for managing student groups, learning activities, and assessments;
    4. a means to facilitate differentiation for students based on their individual learning needs; and
    5. an opportunity to become familiar with a tool that is used in workplaces and colleges and universities.
    Project RED (Revolutionizing EDucation), which is  an off-shoot of Michigan's statewide one-to-one initiative, points out that generally in a learning environment where every student has a computer and the curriculum is shared via a LMS, teachers spend larger amounts of class time in one-on-one interactions with students or conducting class in small-groups. By showing greater daily and weekly use of technology, Project RED’s work suggests that students who have their own computers spend far greater time per subject per week working with course content than do others without their own computer; more time interacting with subject matter correlates to educational benefits.
    Blackboard was introduced to teachers at NASH and NAI at the end of October 2014 and to middle school teachers in March of 2015.  The purpose of adopting Blackboard was to help promote an environment where learning occurs anywhere at anytime. The implementation goal for 2015-2016 was for teachers to begin using Blackboard with their students.  The North Allegheny teaching staff has far exceeded the initial goals with many teachers introducing Blackboard to their classrooms in January of 2015. As of the Spring of 2016, there are just over 1,000 active courses in Blackboard (note: each section/period of a course represents individual course in Blackboard). For many NAI and NASH students Blackboard has already become a routine part of their learning experience. 
    The graphs below provide an indication of the degree of Blackboard use within North Allegheny School District. 
    Blackboard Average Users per Month Graph
    Blackboard Average Active Courses Per Month Graph
    Blackboard Average Site Views Per Month Graph
     Click on any of the graphs for a larger view