Technology in Arkansas classrooms has undergone enormous growth and

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Technology in Arkansas classrooms has undergone enormous growth and Powered By Docstoc
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Snapshots of Success:
Technology Integration
In Arkansas Schools
May 2007

Cheryl Murphy, Ed.D.
College of Education & Health Professions
University of Arkansas

Brent Riffel, M.A.
College of Education & Health Professions
University of Arkansas

Rebecca Martindale, M.Ed.
School for Continuing Education and Academic Outreach
University of Arkansas

Liz Stover, M.Ed.
School for Continuing Education and Academic Outreach
University of Arkansas

Elaine Terrell, M.Ed.
School for Continuing Education and Academic Outreach
University of Arkansas

Sean Bateman
College of Education & Health Professions
University of Arkansas

John Badgett
College of Education & Health Professions
University of Arkansas


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Classroom technology in Arkansas has undergone enormous growth and development
over the past two decades. In the early 1980s the state had a public school enrollment of
just over 430,000 students, and the ratio of computers per pupil stood at a paltry one
computer per 275 students. By the early 1990s the ratio had improved to one computer
per 11 students. As of 2006 the ratio had fallen to an even more respectable level of one
computer for every 3.8 students. While this figure mirrored the national average, the
landscape of educational technology transformed dramatically over this period. Indeed,
when lawmakers and educators discuss technology in the classroom today, computers are
only one element of the equation. SMART boards, compressed video, Internet access,
and a wide array of software tools are just a few examples of the educational technologies
currently at our disposal.

Throughout Arkansas, educators and policymakers have shown a willingness to expand
the palate of instructional technology and the results appear to be paying dividends. This
commitment to technology has been demonstrated by past and present Governors (such
as when Governor Huckabee convened the Technology in Education Task Force in
2003), as well as the Arkansas General Assembly, which currently mandates that $250
per pupil be allocated for educational technology. The influential publication Education
Week has traced the state’s progress over the past decade, and its most recent report,
“Technology Counts 2007: A Digital Decade,” indicates that Arkansas is among the
leaders in providing instructional technology that offers access, research tools, increased
productivity, and greater communication. 1 The “Technology Counts 2007” report gave
Arkansas a grade of B- overall, and in each of its categories (access, use, and capacity)
the state scored above the national average.

In terms of educational technology, Arkansas outperformed most of its neighboring states
in several critical areas. Foremost, the state has done a better job of providing computers
and Internet access to high-poverty students, as well as minority students – outpacing the
national average. Moreover, Arkansas has demonstrated – again in comparison to most
states – considerable cost effectiveness in providing technology to classrooms. For
instance, Arkansas is one of only 17 states involved in a group-purchasing program that
allows districts to buy, through statewide negotiation, digital content at a lower price.

In addition, Arkansas is effectively utilizing the Internet to improve education. The
Arkansas Department of Education has served as an effective conduit of online resources,
providing digital content to a number of school districts around the state. Several
Arkansas districts take advantage of electronic educational resources and online
databases like the ATHENA program, which are typically offered by commercial

1
 “Technology Counts 2007: A Digital Decade,” Editorial Projects in Education Research Center,
http://www.edweek.org/ew/toc/2007/03/29/index.html


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providers. Similarly, teachers throughout the state can now access online courses that
expand their professional development opportunities. Educators in the state of Arkansas
have the ability to sign up and track professional development events on-line using the
escWorks® system. In short, Arkansas has demonstrated enormous growth in the amount
as well as the diversity of its educational technology. While much remains to be done,
signs of progress are clear.

However, despite the increase in the availability of instructional technology, teachers
consistently point out that the rapidity of technological change poses a daunting challenge
to maintaining effectiveness in the classroom. That is, the sheer breadth of technology
options leaves many teachers feeling adrift. Indeed, a nationwide survey administered in
1999 asked teachers about their abilities to incorporate new technologies in the
classroom. Only 20% reported feeling “well prepared to integrate educational technology
into classroom instruction.” 2 As such, sustaining Arkansas’ edge in classroom
technology requires an unstinting commitment at all levels – from the state capital to the
schoolhouse.

In this report, we briefly examine how technology is being integrated in each of the major
geographical regions of the state. In addition, we focus on how technology is currently
being employed in key areas as identified by the National Educational Technology
Standards (NETS) including: improving and streamlining communication; exploring
human and social issues; enhancing students’ problem-solving and decision-making
skills; raising awareness and use of technologies for research and investigation; and
increasing productivity for both teachers and students.

This report provides merely a snapshot of some of the innovative and effective uses of
technology currently being employed in Arkansas classrooms. While the intent is not to
provide a comprehensive examination of implementation of technology in the state, the
examples contained herein are in some cases exceptional; yet many of the practices
described are typical of the use of technology in today’s Arkansas classrooms. As
previously stated, much remains to be done in the quest to maximize the benefits of
technologies for Arkansas students, but the following examples demonstrate the progress
and impact that are currently being made.




2
  U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. “Teacher Quality: A Report on
the Preparation and Qualifications of Public School Teachers, January 1999.”


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       “Students use telecommunications to collaborate, publish, and interact
       with peers, experts, and other audiences. Students use a variety of media
       and formats to communicate information and ideas effectively to multiple
       audiences.” (NETS, 2006)

Technology is playing an increasingly important role in educational communication.
While students have used tools like email and discussion boards to communicate for
several years, newer applications like instant messaging and Google Apps make student
interaction and collaboration easier than ever. Students can readily communicate with
each other, learn from teachers, and interact with subject matter experts from afar without
leaving the classroom.

The availability of multimedia software allows students to express themselves and
communicate in innovative and creative ways. Software products such as videos and
podcasting are but two ways communication technologies are being used to introduce
students to otherwise inaccessible educational experiences such as exposure to other
regions, cultures, and beliefs. Below are a few examples of how Arkansas students and
teachers are using a variety of communication technologies to go beyond the physical
boundaries of the classroom and enhance the learning experience.



                                Dover School District
                               Grades K-12
                               Creating podcasts

                              Students in the Dover School District produce music and
                              podcasts covering a wide array of interests as a way to
                              communicate with a variety of audiences. Anyone can
                              subscribe to the Dover podcasts and listen to a second
                              grade literacy group discuss Kenya, kindergartners talk
about plants, and fifth graders explain facts about Arkansas
History. Recently, students videotaped and created podcasts of
Special Education students reading stories that they created and
illustrated.

Students at Dover are able to create these media rich podcasts by
utilizing Apple's iLife® suite and mobile computer labs. The
district has over 100 Macintosh computers and plans to continue
expanding this project, which is funded by a .125% mill tax for
technology and a lease agreement with Apple.


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Educational research consistently demonstrates that students are
more likely to sustain interest in activities where they are actively
engaged, and at Dover students in all grades are actively engaged
in podcasting. The district’s podcast project allows all students to
learn how to effectively communicate with each other, but also
how to communicate ideas and information to different audiences
by developing products which are both interesting and
entertaining.



                                Forrest City School District
                                High School
                                Mustang Channel 17

                               Mustang Channel 17 is a television station produced by
                               the Journalism I class at Forrest City High School, and
                               broadcasted by the local cable company. The community
                               relies on Mustang television for up-to-date information
                               about school and local happenings. Channel 17 offers
entertainment, coverage of area events, replays of the home team’s sporting events, and
instructional programming to the community.

                                                 In addition to learning communication
                                                 skills, Forrest City students learn about
                                                 program production and other technical
                                                 aspects of putting on a television
                                                 broadcast, including news reporting,
                                                 graphics and video editing. Students
                                                 conclude the school year with a video
                                                 yearbook.

                                               The Partnership for 21st Century Skills
                                               identifies concerns about the changing
                                               nature of workforce, jobs, and skill
demands. In addition to using the available technology to communicate with the school
and local communities, the technology and interpersonal skills acquired in the production
of Mustang Channel 17, through project-based learning, is preparing Forrest City
students for a variety of work and educational settings.




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These are just two of the many districts using technology for communication in
innovative ways. Malvern and Russellville school districts use EDline, which fosters
increased communication between parent, student, and teacher, by giving access to
homework assignments and grades. Elkins School District uses compressed interactive
video (CIV) to deliver instruction to students who are off-site, and Magnet Cove District
uses CIV for teacher professional development. Compressed interactive video is just one
form of communication technology that creates opportunities for people who might be
limited by time, distance, or family obligations.

Communication tools play a role in virtually every area of education today, and are
growing richer and more sophisticated. Arkansas students must continue to acquire these
new technology skills if they are to cross the digital divide and work in a competitive
“global” economy.




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       “Understanding ethical, cultural, and societal issues related to technology
       including practices that reflect responsible use of technology systems,
       information, and software while fostering the development of positive
       attitudes toward technology uses that support lifelong learning,
       collaboration, personal pursuits, and productivity.” (NETS, 2006)

As the world becomes more technologically connected barriers of time and space become
virtually non-existent. Modes of information delivery are no longer limited to watching
the nightly news or reading the morning paper. Rather, social and educational
information can be sent to laptops, mobile phones, or PDA’s in an instant. In addition,
not only can information be retrieved but it can be created just as quickly with
collaborative knowledge tools such as Wikipedia®, or through social networking sites
such as MySpace®.

Given the infinite array of information available, creating responsible citizens in the use
of technology and information is a critical component in the education of children for the
21st century. Ethical considerations such as digital rights, intellectual property, and
privacy must be addressed. Likewise, students must learn how to utilize vast information
sources to help them make informed educational and personal decisions.

Aside from addressing areas of social and ethical concern, new technologies are also
being used to tackle human issues. For example, the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) non-
profit association has developed a $100 laptop expressly for the worlds poorest children.
Similarly, in rural areas of the United States children who are burdened with extensive
bus rides are benefiting from the Aspirnaut® (as'-per-not) Initiative which is providing
students with portable technologies that will enable them to learn while en route to and
from school. An example below demonstrates how Arkansas’ own Aspirnauts (a student
who aspires, seeks, and achieves) are benefiting from these emerging technologies for
education.


                                Sheridan School District
                                Grades K-12
                                The School Begins on the Bus Project
                                http://www.aspirnaut.org/




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                                                Figure 1 - Dr. Billy G. Hudson and Student
                                                on the Hi-Tech Bus (all bus images
                                                courtesy of Today’s THV – KTHV Little
                                                Rock News)

                                               The Sheridan school district and the
                                               Grapevine community are working in
                                               conjunction with Vanderbilt University’s
                                               Center for Science Outreach to research
                                               the objective of “School-begins-on-the-
                                               bus” which is part of the three year
                                               Aspirnaut® Initiative. The initiative was
                                               established by Dr. Billy G. Hudson in an
effort to elevate mathematics and science achievement of students in rural schools.

To transform the bus into a “mobile one-room schoolhouse/computer lab” the initiative
uses broadband technologies from Internet In Motion® and Alltell Wireless to equip the
bus with wireless high-speed Internet access that connects the students’ mobile iPod®
devices (for K-5 grades) or laptops (for 6-12 grades).

The laptops and iPods® are enabled with an individualized
computer-based curriculum that focuses on mathematics
and science content. Students are able to access math and
science materials at any time during the 1.5 hour transit
time to and from school (3 hours total trip time), thus
allowing students to utilize travel time in a productive and
educational manner.

Although a full evaluation of this initiative is not available at this time, anecdotal
evidence suggests the project is having a large impact on rural Sheridan students. As the
article written by Jerod Clark for KTHV in Little Rock, Arkansas, states, “The first ride
with the new gear was the quietest you’ll ever hear a school bus”.




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                              Springhill School District
                              Grades 6-12
                              “Baby Think It Over”




                 Figure 2 - Image courtesy of realityworks.com catalog

Springhill School District’s Family and Consumer Science students are utilizing
computerized “baby dolls” in their “Baby Think It Over” program to teach social
responsibility and decision-making. The interactive simulator doll developed by
Realityworks® helps raise student awareness concerning problems associated with teen
pregnancy. The RealCare® Parenting Program Curriculum was developed to include
topics on decision-making, parenting readiness, goal setting, infant care and child




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development. Each doll has computerized sensors that record rough handling and can
detect rocking, burping and even senses motion during feeding so users can’t prop the
bottle and walk away. Newer versions of the dolls simulate “shaken baby” and “fetal
alcohol” syndromes.

                                         Through the use of computerized babies,
                                         Springhill students are able to make informed
                                         social and ethical decisions and experience the
                                         real consequences of “parenthood” without the
                                         permanent responsibility of having a child. The
                                         students care for the babies over an extended
                                         period of time, collect computerized data from
                                         the dolls into a notebook computer, and project
                                         results to a Smartboard® for class discussion.
                                         Research supports the use of computerized infant
simulators as having a significant positive effect on participants compared with programs
that rely upon curricula alone, and students at Springhill are learning life lessons from
this real-world technology.


Information access can have positive social impacts,
and Arkansas schools are harnessing the power of
various technologies to provide students with the
information they need to make sound decisions and
succeed. In addition to the previously mentioned
examples, K-4 students at Conway School District
are learning life skills using ViewTV, while students
at Malvern have established an electronic
WeatherBug® system and crisis plan to aid their
community and the local Department of Emergency
Services. With the help of technology and student
ingenuity, social, ethical and human issues are being addressed to ensure students can
become positive contributors to our schools, communities, state, and the world.




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       "Using technology resources for solving problems and making informed
       decisions and employing technology in the development of strategies for
       solving problems in the real world” (NETS, 2006)

Remember when problem solving meant doing your math homework? Now, thanks to
rapid advancements and increased access to technology, students are able to use "real-
world" tools to explore problems and devise strategies applicable to situations that extend
far beyond the classroom.

Technology has traditionally been the key to rapid advancement in all areas of society
and recent developments have improved the way we approach problems and make
decisions across the spectrum. For example, geographic information systems (GIS) relate
different types of spatial information to guide decision-making in areas such as
engineering, environmental protection, or disaster planning. Computer simulations are
another method to allow learners to explore true-to-life situations and make decisions
based on accurate and realistic feedback. The examples that follow describe two
programs that introduce Arkansas students to advanced problem solving tools that
encourage their creativity while developing their decision-making skills.


                                Fayetteville School District
                                Grades 7-8 - Gifted and Talented
                                Architecture Unit

                                 This year, seventh and eighth graders in Fayetteville's
                                 gifted and talented program learned about careers in
                                 architecture and landscape architecture in a semester-long
                                 problem-based program. Students first toured Fayetteville
                                 and researched local architecture before extending their
research to the Internet to learn about internationally known architects. Participants also
gained a better understanding of economics by preparing estimates of materials and labor
for their own projects and tracked billable hours for the time spent working on their own
models.

Sketchup, a free software application that allows users to create 3D designs, was used to
design models. Students then used foam core and other materials to physically construct
the models. Students also used digital cameras to create images
of their projects which were included in PowerPoint®
presentations that the students gave for parents and members of
the community upon completion of the project. Fayetteville


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teachers were pleased with the results of the architecture unit and plan to use it again in
the future to introduce students to 3D modeling and prepare them for the EAST program.


                                Hamburg School District
                                Grades 9-12
                                EAST Program

                              Hamburg School District has participated in the EAST
                              initiative since 1997. This innovative program originated
                              in Greenbrier Arkansas in 1996 and since then has
                              expanded to over 150 schools throughout the state as well
                              as schools in California, Hawaii, Pennsylvania, Illinois,
and Louisiana. EAST prepares students for the future by providing learning experiences
in which students gain hands-on experience using technology to address needs within the
school and the community.

The 2006-2007 school year has been a busy one for seventy 9th – 12th graders in the
EAST program at Hamburg High School. Students in the EAST program take charge of
their own learning experience by selecting a team to work with and identifying a school
or community project to pursue. This year students employed technology in a multitude
of ways as they worked on a variety of projects. For example, students used GPS and GIS
technology to map the Overflow Wildlife Refuge Area. Students also used digital
cameras and video editing equipment to prepare histories of Ashley County and Bayou
Bartholomew. Some participants learned web design to create teacher web pages as well
as web pages related to their EAST projects. Finally, students used Microsoft®
PowerPoint and other Microsoft® Office products to produce materials for kindergarten
identity cards, senior slideshow, anti-smoking presentations, EAST Conference
presentations, and to design a Hamburg welcome sign for the city. Hamburg will also be
holding their first EAST camp this summer. Hamburg High School is committed to the
goals of the EAST program and hope to continue to expand the project in the future.

The previous are just two examples of how Arkansas students gained practical experience
solving real-world problems using technology in a hands-on learning environment.
Students around the state are preparing for the future through innovative problem solving
activities such as 3rd graders in the Lafayette County School District. These students used
Science Court®, a fun and innovative program that provides them with evidence that they
analyze and evaluate to develop understanding of science concepts. The fast paced
change of technology allows learners unprecedented opportunities to experience realistic
learning activities that prepare them to make intelligent decisions for the future. These
experiences will guide them in the classroom and far beyond. Fortunately for today’s
Arkansas student, problem solving doesn’t just mean doing your math homework
anymore.


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       “Using technology tools to locate, evaluate, and collect/process
       information/data generating report results from a variety of sources.
       Students evaluate and select new information resources and technological
       innovations based on the appropriateness for specific tasks.” (NETS, 2006)


Classroom technology has improved research capabilities in dramatically. Students no
longer use a library’s card catalog in order to access resources. Indeed, research
opportunities have greatly expanded, not only through the advent of the Internet, but also
through innovative software that acts as a gateway to information. Thus, students and
teachers are not bound by the constraints of a particular library’s holdings. Moreover,
how students express the results of their research has expanded; what was once the
standard research paper can now – through the use of new technologies – be a multi-
media assignment, incorporating video, animation, and a wide assortment of other media.



                               Fountain Lake High School
                               Grades 9-12
                               EAST Lab Program


                                 Fountain Lake High School is one of many Arkansas
                                 schools that participate in the East (Environmental and
                                 Spatial Technology) initiative. The EAST model is
                                 recognized nationally as an innovative approach to
learning. It is the result of partnerships between business, government, and education,
including a self-directed, service-oriented project-based learning. EAST offers advanced
opportunities for research by using a variety of
computer hardware and software technology.
Students are required to take the initiative in
creating project solutions that produce
measurable and tangible results. They are
exposed to strategies that help them move from
the traditional self-centered approaches of
learning into more interdependent team
approaches to problem resolution. The Fountain
Lake High School Cobra EAST Lab was
established in the 2000-2001 school year, with
students in grades 9 through 12.


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Since its inception, the lab at Fountain Lake has partnered with the Garland County
Office of Emergency Management to create the base map for the county's natural disaster
response plan. In addition, 8th grade students in the Hot Springs school district – using
Internet research tools and employing digital editing software – have created a natural
disaster movie to foster greater awareness of emergency management protocols, and to
examine the history of natural disasters in the region. Schools that participate in the
EAST initiative submit projects to the annual EAST partnership conference. The 2007
conference featured entries utilizing 3D laser scanning, virtual reality development, and a
host of other high-tech platforms.



                                Piggott School District
                                Grades K-12
                                Athena Program



                            The Piggott school district utilizes the Athena program,
                            an award-winning, fully integrated library automation
                            system combines circulation, catalog searching (OPAC),
                            cataloging, and inventory functions in a single, user-
friendly system. Athena features easy searching, fast cataloging, and streamlined
circulation and inventory:
Athena's three search options ensure that patrons find exactly
what they need. Plus, handy icons help searchers
immediately recognize found material types relevant to their
search. Athena provides access to unique bibliographies with
Visual Search. For instance, a history teacher can create a
bibliography on the Civil War with biographies, magazine
articles, web sites, video clips, and audio files. This
information can then be given to the school librarian, who
uploads it to Athena. Then, patrons who search for items about the Civil War can access
all of these resources.
Piggott’s implementation of Athena is funded through the library’s budget, and has been
in use since 2001. Piggott High School also employs a server-based World Book®
computer encyclopedia.

These are but a few examples of how Arkansas classrooms are expanding their research
options. For instance, in the Midland school district, 5th and 6th graders have been
engaged in designing a “Dream Room,” a unique lesson plan that involves students
incorporating research, mathematics, engineering, and their own creativity. The project


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also entails the use of a number of different pieces of software. The Dream Room begins
with an essay describing the floor plan. Students then use graphics software to create
symbols for specific items in the room. These items are placed on an Excel grid in the
precise position they will occupy in the room. The result is an interactive design that
allows students to familiarize themselves with a number of programs. As Arkansas
classrooms continue to broaden their research capabilities, the prospects for student and
teacher research appear to be unlimited.




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       “Using productivity tools to enhance learning, increase productivity, and
       promote creativity through collaboration and constructing technology-
       enhanced models, preparation of publications, and producing other
       creative works.” (NETS, 2006)

Technologies have historically been viewed as productivity tools, designed to accomplish
daily tasks faster and more efficiently than previously possible. However, traditional
views of productivity tools are changing, no longer limited to hard-wired desktop
computers and paper-based word processors. Rather, both the tools and the work space
are evolving, becoming more mobile and digital than every before. Productivity
hardware now includes such technologies as Blackberries®, PDAs (Personal Digital
Assistant), and UMPCs (Ultra Mobile Personal Computers). Similarly, software has
shifted focus from stand-alone desktop packages to portable applications, multi-user
document sharing, and online information management systems.

The advances in productivity hardware and software are impacting businesses worldwide,
but as the NETs definition asserts, these new productivity tools are also being used to
promote a variety of highly desirable outcomes in K-12 education, such as enhanced
learning, increased collaboration, and amplified creativity. Evidence of these outcomes
are witnessed in many schools across Arkansas where new productivity technologies are
being utilized in extraordinary ways to engage students, foster problem-solving, and
increase learning. Highlighted below are two examples of how teachers and students are
embracing and using these new technologies.



                               Fort Smith School District
                              Grades 4-6
                              PDA’s in the Classroom
                               Through an award from the Arkansas Enhancing
                               Education Through Technology (EETT) federal block
                               grant, the Fort Smith
                               School District impacts
                               18 teachers and over 500
                               students across three
                               schools each year with
the purchase of PalmOne Tungsten® handhelds. Every
student in grades 4-6 receives a PDA, which is utilized
daily for a multitude of tasks ranging from note-taking
to practicing for benchmark examinations.



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                             The handheld productivity devices have become an integral
                             part of the classroom, allowing teachers and students to
                             meet a wide range of ongoing educational needs. Teachers
                             are able to use the devices to individualize instruction,
                             afford students practice for standardized tests, and
                             incorporate new ways of teaching curriculum. In particular,
                             math and literacy applications are emphasized, but the
                             handheld devices are also being used to aid students in
promoting general skills such as problem solving, fostering team spirit, and encouraging
higher-order thinking.
George Lieux, Director of the Technology Academy in Fort
Smith and leader of the PDA initiative, has observed that
students' basic math and vocabulary skills improve at a
faster pace. He also asserts that students' total engagement
in reading and writing increases with the use of handheld
devices. He attributes these desirable increases to the
effective integration of the devices into the classroom and
to the motivational factor that accompanies the use of the
handheld technology. “Students enjoy using them,” Lieux states matter-of-factly. It is
this enjoyment, coupled with skilled integration by teachers, that is engaging students and
making a difference in the lives of Ft. Smith students.




                                Fayetteville School District
                                Grade 6
                                The Paperless Classroom

                                 A science instructor at Owl Creek Middle School is
                                 utilizing numerous productivity tools in his quest to
                                 achieve a “paperless” classroom.         The goals of this
                                 pursuit are to enhance collaboration, develop 21st Century
skill sets, and increase learning. To accomplish these tasks each child in Brent Smith’s
6th grade science class is equipped with a laptop at his/her desk, Internet connectivity, and
Microsoft software productivity tools.

Students in this “paperless” classroom work collaboratively with a variety of digital
media to solve problems, build organizational skills, and increase their knowledge of
science. An example of this includes a team-based research project where students
investigate data-based web sites on the Internet, compile data in an Excel® spreadsheet,



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compare the scientific data and draw conclusions on a discussion board, share drafts of a
team report using Google Documents, and submit the final report via email. The teacher
uses the tracking feature in Microsoft® Word to supply feedback and detailed suggestions
on the report before sending it back to the team of students via email.

Fayetteville is using a program titled Network Online that allows a user to retrieve
documents from a district drive. This “drop folder” for finished assignments allows a
teacher to retrieve and comment on student work. A drop folder is one that can only be
accessed by the teacher. An added bonus of Network Online is a parent’s ability to log in
to the student’s drive to review graded assignments – assignments that are often lost on
the way home.

Science and Math teachers in the middle school share a CPS – Classroom Performance
System, or clickers. The clickers make it possible for informal assessment that provides
immediate feedback without the use of paper or pencil. Activity scores are saved into a
cumulative grade book so that teachers can assess change in understanding over a unit of
study or over state curriculum frameworks.

The benefit to students and their parents is seen as the increased organizational and
digital literacy skills that are necessary for school achievement. This is especially
important given the high number of free & reduced lunch students in this particular
middle school. The benefit to the teacher is a decrease in the exchange of papers during
valuable teaching time. The district plans to continue championing the use of paperless
activities and will ask several other middle school teachers to participate next fall.

                       Productivity tools are becoming more mobile and digital than ever
                       before, and Arkansas classrooms are following suit. In addition to
                       the classrooms highlighted above, schools in Arkansas are using a
                       variety of productivity hardware and software to enhance learning.
                       For example, Elkins School District is utilizing document cameras
                       to facilitate group dissection in science classes, Calico Rock and
                       Lakeside Districts are using Interwrite wireless pads to allow
                       dynamic input from any student in the classroom, and Hot Springs
                       District teachers are using multi-user document sharing to
facilitate the development and dissemination of technology-infused lesson plans. These
uses and many more illustrate that as productivity tools evolve, our schools are
developing and embracing methods that make the best use of productivity technologies to
enhance learning.

Teachers are also taking advantage of digital productivity tools for curriculum design and
professional development. Using the same tools their students employ, teachers are
collaborating online with each other and with ADE to share ideas, discuss teaching
methods, and build exemplary lesson plans that can be shared across the state.



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As this report demonstrates, Arkansas has witnessed considerable progress in providing
technology in the classroom. As the August 2006 Picus and Odden school funding
recalibration report noted, instructional technology is integral to achieving adequacy.3 In
some respects, Arkansas is ahead of most states in its use of educational technology. As
policymakers debate how best to provide a solid education to students throughout the
state, it is clear that compressed video delivery, distance learning strategies, and a host of
other platforms will become more prevalent. Without question, Arkansas is on the right
trajectory in this regard.

However, much work remains. Anecdotal evidence suggests that many Arkansas
teachers could improve and expand their utilization of technology if more professional
development were offered. Ongoing technical assistance throughout the school year may
be necessary as more – and more complex - software becomes available. While the state
has made strides toward achieving greater technological capabilities, as information
networks continue to broaden, the learning curve will only grow steeper. Accordingly, a
sustained commitment from legislators, the Arkansas Department of Education, and
teachers will be vital if Arkansas is to continue to make improvements in K-12 education.




For more information or to download a copy of this report please visit:
http://sceao.uark.edu/snapshot/




3
 Allen Odden, Lawrence O. Picus and Michael Goetz, “Recalibrating the Arkansas School Funding
Structure,” Final Report, August, 2006. Available online at
http://www.arsba.org/Assests/PDFS/Picus&Oden_RecalibratingARSchoolFunding_Final.pdf


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