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Contributor: ThinkFWD
Digital districts: Fostering collaboration for long-term learners

How can educators link long-term strategy with their IT buying priorities to prepare their students for the digital future?

The variable nature of education funding often sees new technologies introduced without a unifying strategy or common sense of purpose.

New technologies are introduced through reactionary and disjointed funding initiatives and technologists, educators and students are left to connect the dots to turn that technology into educational outcomes.

What is a digital district?

To provide more predictability in the deployment of educational technology, many educational institutions are now embracing the idea of a 'digital district' – an educational paradigm that places digital learning technologies at the heart of all education.

The digital district concept is based around five core concepts including:

  • A foundation of cooperation and training.
  • The delivery of seamless connectivity.
  • The establishment of deep collaboration throughout the processes of teaching and learning.
  • The delivery of meaningful content.
  • The application of select transformational solutions.

Through these five core elements, educators can stop wrestling with the specifics of any one technology purchase, and instead access tools helping to create lifelong digital learners.

Working together towards a greater learning environment

Delivering this lifelong digital learning requires looking past the specifics of the device and considering the broad educational context in which that device will function.

Rather than simply plugging in and managing equipment, it's important to build a culture of ongoing cooperation and training between the educators and the technologists.

This collaborative approach towards technology in the classroom helps provide a more meaningful educational environment. First, let us collectively understand what we are working to achieve and then we can identify what that means.

By fostering a culture of collaboration – and then empowering it with suitable technologies – the concept of the digital district promises to deliver a long-term framework that will create digital learners for life. Empowered in this way, such learners will be ready to embrace whatever challenges the digital future holds.

Collaborative frameworks are linked with the delivery of meaningful educational content, which addresses curriculum and student requirements today and ensures they are well positioned to assimilate new learning technologies now and into the future.

Pillars to success

As the pace of tech-driven transformation in teaching and learning continues to escalate, schools and districts are investing in technology to solve challenges across campuses. But are decision-makers managing new priorities and challenges strategically, or simply moving from one crisis to the next?

Building an efficient, impactful and future-ready district takes careful planning and consensus. Once you’ve established a solid collaborative foundation, it’s time to assess specific device and infrastructure needs inside your district and across the community.

Leading the way

A strategic, long-term technology plan is the first step to creating a sustainable digital district. But before you can develop that, you’ll need to build leadership.

To ensure you're truly ready for a digital district, you need to ask the tough questions to identify the latest learning opportunities. Identify a core checklist to clearly set your objectives and work towards checking them off one at a time.

The questions you should be asking yourself to better align with your strategic intent are:

  • What can new content do for teachers and students?
  • Is your network ready for technology-driven learning and assessment?
  • How robust is your campus connectivity?
  • Are teachers and students prepared for new tools and responsibilities?
  • Do you have the latest and greatest technological support in the classroom?

Each of these questions will help you address the broader picture for technology-driven education environments. Ultimately, the introduction of a well-thought-out and executed digital district assists educators to do what they enjoy most: deliver an enriching learning experience.

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