The Eastern Lancaster County School District is in the process of implementing strategies to enhance the education of our students through our Anytime-Anywhere Learning (AAL) program. The AAL program is defined as a flexible and personalized educational program that integrates new instructional strategies and a mixture of technology tools with the goal of transforming classrooms from teacher-centric to student-centered learning environments, which focus on high academics and the integration of 21st century skills. The AAL program is occurring as a result of the successful eighth grade laptop pilot program during the 2011-2012 school year and the district’s strategic plan, which included a goal to integrate 21st Century Learning Skills by utilizing computers as instructional tools.
Key components of the AAL program include the expanding role of the classroom teacher, use of a learning management system, and use of student mobile computing devices. Teacher roles are expanding to provide a more blended approach of traditional and digital learning resources (blended learning), while mentoring students on how to become self-regulated in their own learning. The learning management system enables teachers to organize curriculum content, provide formative assessments to help change instructional practice, and create a more personalized learning path for students. Student mobile devices provide the anytime-anywhere access to learning that is needed for our students to become proficient, life-long learners.
In addition to the district’s ElancOnline Virtual Academy online high school offerings, other instructional strategies being introduced include project-based learning, computer-based formative assessments, and the Pennsylvania Hybrid Learning Initiative pilot program. This past summer, all middle school and ninth grade teachers participated in a week-long professional development academy to prepare for the upcoming school year where they were introduced to several instructional strategies. Each teacher identified one or two instructional strategies to implement in the classroom this school year. Follow-up professional development has been scheduled throughout the school year to provide for best practices with the new instructional strategies.
The district technology department has provided a Moodle Learning Management System called the Spartan Learning Portal (SLP) to manage course content, instructional resources, and to provide electronic assessments. Course, teacher, and student information are automatically synchronized with the district student information system called PowerSchool so that teachers only need to create their course material on the portal. A select group of teachers have implemented the rotational model of hybrid learning using the EdElements Hybrid Learning Management System to track student progress in mastery of state standards.
After a brief orientation during the first week of school, students in grades seven through nine received district-assigned laptops to be used at school and home throughout the school year. The laptops have all of the necessary software needed for their curriculum and learning goals in addition to an internet filter that is active at school and anywhere the students access the Internet. Parents have the ability to sign up to receive an email with a detailed report of what their student(s) are doing on their assigned computer. Parents can sign-up to receive the report through the PowerSchool Parent Access.
The district plans to expand the AAL program to grades ten through twelve during the 2013-2014 school year. Costs associated with the planned expansion of the AAL program are offset with the planned reduction in printing, curtailment of traditional textbook purchases, and extension of current student and staff computer refresh cycles from three years to four years. As part of the AAL program for the 2012-2013 school year, the district has secured grant monies to support the educational programming changes. The district also plans to apply for additional grant funding for the 2013-2014 school year.
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