Educators come to Charlotte to learn more about digital learning

Teaching with tech in the classroom

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The School Superintendents Association held its three day Digital Consortium in Charlotte July 22-24. Around 45 educators came from around America to experience and learn more about innovation in schools, technology and blended learning.

Attendees visited Charlotte-Mecklenburg School (CMS) Olympic High School to see how that school partners with local businesses including Siemens. Nick Polyak is a superintendent from Illinois. He says he has learned some lessons and was impressed.

"We got to meet with executives from local firms including Siemens about how they are working with the schools to provide apprenticeships and equipment to help prepare students," Leyden HS District #212 Superintendent Nick Polyak said.

Polyak thinks those connections made during the Consortium and skills learned in high school will make the difference for students.

"It opens up doors," Polyak said. "It teaches them about what the real world of work is and what's waiting for them so they can hit the ground running when they leave our schools."

Polyak says he is ready to take what he has learned in Charlotte back to Illinois. The educators also visited Levine Museum of the New South. They got a history lesson concerning issues of equity and race. One of the goals of the Consortium is to stress equity for all students in the classrooms. Reports show about five million school age students are without broadband internet in their homes.

"It is our responsibility when it comes to digital tools and resources," Polyak said. "We need to break down walls. We need to fill in the gaps so we can put all kids on an equal playing field, so that every student has the same chance to be successful."

Teachers also attended the Digital Consortium. They discussed ways technology can help their students make the grade.

"I have students in all different levels and technology allows me to target each individual kid. So I have a student who is a little bit behind and I can use technology or a software or a program to give that particular student what he needs," Garinger HS math teacher Austin Webster said.

Teachers admit technology can only work if it has been proven to help students. They say sometimes school districts purchase technology that is not helping students. Teachers always have to ask themselves this question concerning technology in their classrooms.

"Is it actually working and then how do we need to change that the next day or the next week," Webster said.

The group also talked to leaders with Google Fiber in Charlotte about the impact of high speed connections in the city. Charlotte has been a Google Fiber Gigabit City since 2014.

Educators say they learned much while in Charlotte and say the school district's challenge now is to keep up with the ever-changing technology.

"The world is changing faster than we change and so we need to be agile and nimble in making sure we are always supporting what our students need," Polyak said.

The School Superintendents Association usually has three Digital Consortiums a year. The next one will happen in October in Cleveland, Ohio.

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