Wasatch School District (WCSD) began the digital conversion process in 2011 with the 5th Grade at Timpanogos Intermediate School. A Digital Conversion team was created and charged with the responsibility to research and visit school districts around the country which had already implemented a successful digital conversion program. This was done to better understand best practices surrounding the implementation, evaluation, and professional development needed to support teachers, students, and parents across WCSD. After the 12 month study was completed, the roll-out plan was modified to include the entire district, PK – 12th grade.
Digital Conversion has never been a “technology” project for WCSD. Rather, its purpose has always been to help improve academic achievement for every student. Students now have access to a digital curriculum and other digital resources to enhance and individualize their learning. Instead of replacing expensive textbooks every few years, the curriculum is now web-based to ensure updated, dynamic, and timely content for each subject. Digital Conversion supports outstanding teachers by giving them additional resources to help every student learn at a deeper and richer level.
To support teachers and students, Instructional Coaches have been placed in each school. These Instructional Coaches provide support during the school day to answer teachers’ questions, professionally develop all teachers in integrating a digital curriculum, infuse project based learning in the classroom, and utilize the latest and most effective technologies as well as other teaching practices that support increased student achievement. Since 2011, the Digital Conversion process has resulted in many academic benefits for students including increased student engagement, improved problem solving skills, increased writing across the curriculum, more individualized instruction for each student, and greater access to support systems in Math, Science and Language Arts, both on and off our school’s campus. This digital conversion process has granted technology access to every student in WCSD regardless of socio-economic status or nationality.
In the 2014-15 school year every student in grades 5 - 12 received a digital device that they are able to keep and take home for the school year. The devices are returned at the end of the year and refurbished by technicians, who also update the software. Digital devices will be made available in grades PK – 4 for every student starting in August 2015. It has not yet been determined if devices will go home in grades 3 – 4. For grades PK -2, students will engage with the devices at school in a one to one environment, but those devices will not be taken home.
The actual device used by the students varies by grade level; however, all devices use Microsoft Windows 8.1 as an operating system. One of the key elements to successfully make the transition to a Digital Curriculum is creating digitally friendly classrooms. Currently, every classroom in WCSD is digitally friendly. This means it has access to a digital projector, a digital document camera; and an enhanced audio system. The projector and document camera allow for the projection of both digital and print material in an easily viewable format for all students. The projectors are interactive enabling the teachers to engage students and interact with content in a whole new way. The audio systems installed in each room permit teachers to speak in a normal voice, yet be easily heard by those students with hearing deficits. The audio system also lets students listen to audio from other sources at comfortable levels.