Better access to learning tools for rural students
For students in places like the McGuffey School District, technology can go a long way toward inspiring teachers to add creativity and personalization to lessons. But in this largely low-income and rural district, many students don’t have access to learning devices like home computers, and high-speed online access in remote areas of the district is limited.
Teresa Engler was a McGuffey Middle School science teacher for the past 30 years and recently became a technology coach, and she has seen the impact of the district's shift from computer labs to Chromebooks. Before that time, the district’s 166 teachers had to make do with two computer labs across four schools—each one equipped with about 25 PCs.
"Teachers would have to take turns signing up to use the lab, then spend time moving students to the lab," Engler recalls. "By the time you do that, and take five minutes to log in to PCs and five minutes to log off, students are left with about 20 minutes at the computers."
When the district received a grant from Digital Promise, an education nonprofit, to purchase about 170 Chromebooks in 2013, the transformation to personalized and student-led learning began immediately—including using Google Workspace for Education tools such as Classroom and Sheets.
"Google Classroom really opened the door to personalized learning," Engler says. "We got right on board with using it to modify lessons for individual students, or comment on their homework if we wanted to help them understand the lesson better."
Because students can access Google Workspace for Education tools from any device, they have the flexibility to work from anywhere, such in study halls, on bus trips to and from school, or at home. "Students who lack internet access often have phones with cell service," Engler says. "We have a bring-your-own device policy at our schools, so students can access links sent through Classroom by the teachers, and do their homework from anywhere."