In a growing school district, Putnam County’s instructional technology leaders look for opportunities to share learning resources with as many students as possible, and to prepare students for a rapidly evolving work world.
“We have to prepare students for jobs that don’t even exist yet,” says Lance Key, the district’s instructional technology specialist. “The one common thread in these jobs is technology—so if we don’t help them build these skills, we’re not training them in the right way.”
However, the district’s 50 computer labs didn’t allow students much time to sharpen digital skills—or for teachers to inspire and engage students in lessons using technology. “Labs are very structured time—there’s never enough labs for the teachers who want to use them,” Key says.
The district had taken key steps to support greater adoption of instructional technology, such as launching VITAL (Virtual Instruction to Accentuate Learning) for students who wanted to customize their learning through homeschooling or online classes. The VITAL program was growing, with parents and students embracing the teaching model—driving more discussion about providing teachers and students with engaging digital tools. The district started using Google Workspace for Education in 2010, but initial use was mostly limited to Gmail for teachers.
“We saw this as an opportunity to show teachers what Google Workspace could do for us,” says Sam Brooks, Putnam County’s personal learning supervisor and principal of VITAL. “Our superintendent, Jerry Boyd, was a Google person long before we were, and he saw Google as an opportunity to explore what technology could do for teaching.”