Case Study: Lessons Learned From How One Virginia District Prepared for Online Learning

DISTRICT TRANSFORMATION: What does it take to prepare a district with the proper equipment and training to support online learning? A case study from New America explores how Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) in Virginia built out its technology infrastructure over the course of two decades. The experience “foreshadows what awaits states across the country that are just now connecting schools to sufficient broadband service to support online testing,” states the public policy think tank.

According to the report, technology investments focused initially on supporting testing needs, leaving the ACPS educators “largely to its own devices” about how to best help teachers use technology for instruction. Its chief technology officer later restructured the technology department to include more teachers to help make important decisions concerning edtech tools.

Yet as more teaching and learning activities rely on online tools, connectivity and broadband issues are magnified. One teacher wrote: “If I create a lesson that is technology-heavy, and it turns out to be a logistical nightmare due to logging on issues or speed access, it makes me hesitant to try and implement future lessons using technology.”

The report concludes with recommendations for what other states and districts can learn from the ACPS examples. Among the tips: “Ensur[e] that decisions are made in coordination with choices about instructional models, curriculum, and assessment.”

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