Serving nearly 9,000 students, the White Bear Lake Area School District is at the forefront of educational excellence. We believe technology can do more than simply improve course delivery. It can transform the way courses are taught, and how students learn, by providing access to education anytime, anywhere, on any device. One of our most successful initiatives has been our 1:1 technology program, implemented four years ago. Each student was given a Chromebook to use throughout the school year, enabling them to work on course curricula at school and away from campus.
My courses of Digital Photography and Graphic Design were historically taught in a classroom with networked computers. As the popularity of social media and photography grew, more students became interested in photography techniques, and enrollment in my classes expanded. The class also met the state art standard for high school graduation, which also contributed to its popularity. As class sizes grew and my curriculum expanded, I found that my existing lab loaded with the Adobe Suite was starting to become limited. Our district was also in transition to the 1:1 platform at the time and was removing computer labs from most of our campuses.
I looked into options and discovered that Nutanix Frame could stream Adobe applications from the cloud directly into a browser, making it a great fit for Chromebooks. Students were able to log in using the Frame account through their school Gmail account, and work directly through their Google Drive, with access to Adobe InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop. Students were able to work on projects at school, home or anywhere they had Wi-Fi. By giving students access to the applications they needed from their own devices, Nutanix Frame and the 1:1 program enabled me to eliminate the networked computer lab in my classroom.
I was able to rearrange my classroom to incorporate more collaboration areas. My vision was to have my classroom atmosphere feel like a coffee shop that allowed students to be comfortable while learning the curriculum. Clearing out the networked computer lab also freed up space that enabled me to enlarge the photography studio area, with more lighting and backdrop stations.
More Freedom, More EngagementEnabling every student to work on their own device instead of relying on limited classroom lab access has increased student engagement in my classroom by 100 percent. My course enrollment reached maximum capacity soon after starting this program and has maintained popularity as an elective course since. The program has also inspired me to advance the level of my curriculum and content. Students can complete more advanced projects, supported by streaming applications, with the mobility and flexibility to work off campus. They can follow tutorials and use the classroom Schoology page to complete assignments converting files and uploading their projects to our classroom page for grading. We also have a classroom portfolio set up for students to collaborate and share ideas with each other.
My courses were recently approved for articulated college credit through Century College in White Bear Lake, MN. Because of the increased student engagement, we are able to cover more curriculum in the course, so students can work at a more advanced level. Any student can register for my elective courses, so I often have everyone from special education-supported students to gifted and talented students in the same class. This would normally be a challenging teaching situation, but the flexibility provided by our technology initiative lets me work one on one with all students at different times during the class period.
It also allows students to work with supported staff in other locations of the building if needed. Many of my students work on projects at home or at a local coffee shop after school hours. I’ve noticed the quality of their work improve as well.
I really believe that education needs to include a more global approach to learning. Providing students the mobility to work on their projects wherever they want, on their own device, takes them beyond classroom limits and enhances their ability to learn anywhere, at any time. The mobility of the Nutanix Frame system has really expanded the way to teach today.
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