8th-graders to take home digital classroom
by Lindsay Field
June 12, 2012 01:12 AM | 5843 views | 17 17 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — Some eighth-graders in Cobb County will be getting their classroom lectures at home under a pilot program next year.

The school board will consider the “flipped classroom” initiative at their work session Wednesday, as well as the “Bring Your Own Device” program, in which students will be encouraged to bring laptop computers, smart phones and other electronic devices into the classroom.

“The flipped classroom involves the teacher creating online tutorials or digital resources for students to review outside of the classroom to prepare for in-class seminars or work sessions,” Chief Academic Officer Dr. Judi Jones said Monday. “BYOD means that students are allowed, and encouraged, to bring their own wireless or portable electronic equipment to use as part of the instruction program.”

Deputy Superintendent of Operations Chris Ragsdale said the district will be watching how many students bring devices into the classroom and what devices they bring.

“There are numerous statistics out there about what percentage of 14-year-olds have smart phones, but we need to know what percentage of the population in Cobb County can bring devices,” he said.

Ragsdale said that despite that uncertainty, he doesn’t have any concerns about the BYOD program.

The content students access would be filtered through the school’s firewall, which blocks inappropriate materials such as pornography or social media websites, Ragsdale said.

The program will be implemented in one eighth-grade team each from Lost Mountain, Pine Mountain, Floyd, Smitha, Daniell and Dodge middle schools. Three schools will implement flipped classrooms, while the other three will be in the BYOD program. The district hasn’t decided which schools will use which initiative.

Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa has been investigating new education methods like the flipped classroom since the district discovered they were facing a $62.4 million deficit for Fiscal Year 13. He said a new model would also help Cobb students compete academically on the national and international levels.

“You have to remember that we aren’t the pioneers on this,” he said. “There’s a consortium of districts that are already learning about the 21st Century learner. We won’t be the first one, but we need to get caught up.”

Hinojosa decided to pursue the programs after reading an April 2011 Wall Street Journal article about Khan Academy, a website created in 2008 that offers free lectures on topics such as math, physics and history. The article, written by founder Sal Khan, said the Los Altos school district in California had introduced it in their classrooms.

Los Altos Superintendent Jeff Baier told the Journal that his district began using the academy in 2011 with about 1,000 fifth- through eighth-graders.

Baier said the program gives both students and teachers instant feedback on how well the class is learning the material.

Students who traditionally struggled have improved under the program, but “we are looking for more than test score gains,” Baier said

“We are working to find ways to make learning more meaningful and personalized for students,” he said. “This tool also allows our teachers to use their instructional time in different ways, giving more individualized attention from the teacher on a more regular basis.”

Sen. Chip Rogers (R-Woodstock) is a big fan of the online lessons.

“Khan Academy is revolutionizing education,” the state Senate majority leader said.

Rogers’ four children, ranging from 6 to 13 years old, started using Khan Academy’s math lessons about two years ago. They now use it a few times a week during the school year for math and science tutorials.

“It has been very helpful,” he said. “Sal Khan has a teaching style that I find very easy to follow, as do my children. Khan Academy allows us to add to what our children are receiving in school and in some cases advance beyond the school curriculum.”

Rogers said he believes the program could save taxpayers millions of dollars and improve test scores nationwide.

“The more important point is the opportunity to transform education in a way that will move the United States back towards the top in science and math,” he said. “The long-term benefits of doing so are almost too much to calculate.”
Comments-icon Post a Comment
July 14, 2012
Will the school's insurance cover stolen or damaged devices while on the school's premises?
June 12, 2012
Perhaps the district needs to only look as far as what is already offered in Georgia Public Schools - Georgia Cyber Academy and beginning in 2012-2013 school year! These are technology-driven GA public schools.

These schools are wonderful alternatives to the current public school environment and allow for individual students to work at their own pace. All special programs are offered as well since they are public schools. They are FREE and if a family cannot afford their own computer equipment, it can be supplied by the school. Obviously, it is catching on as the enrollment jumps by THOUSANDS each year throughout the state. These are also systems which have been embraced by approximately 30 other states!
old man
June 12, 2012
Nothing mentioned about security for the BYOD program. Sounds like this would lead to alot of expensive equipment being lost or stolen. Pretty expensive to buy.
Miss Scarlett
June 12, 2012

My children were sacrificial lambs for Block Scheduling...beware!
Frank S.
June 12, 2012
Amen, Miss Scarlett. Mine were too. The 4x4 block is the most mindless academic schedule, ever
June 12, 2012
Looks like district politics at work here. Many months ago, two Lovinggood Middle School teachers with advanced degrees and the latest training in instructional technology proposed a program similar to the "flip" described here. The principal embraced it, parents were notified, but when the district folks got involved, everything came to a screeching halt. Obvious now what happened. So much for initiatives growing up from the local level!!!
June 12, 2012
How do you know it didn't come from their idea? Stop whining and look at this as a positive.

June 13, 2012
How do I know???????

A- I am personally acquainted with both teachers, who were told toward the end of the year that the project would not go forward, and

B- Lovinggood is not one of the schools chosen.
Lost Mtn. Parent
June 12, 2012
I'll have an 8th grader at LMMS this school year and am somewhat excited to read about this. However, we have not yet provided a phone, let alone a smartphone, to our child. The laptop used by our child at home is old and wouldn't stand up to being carried around school every day. We recently dropped a lot of non-essential services to cut down on costs. Is there any device that would work in this situation that we could buy for under $150?
@Lost Mtn Parent
June 15, 2012
You might want to look into a kindle or a nook - they might be what you want in your price range.
June 22, 2012
There are smaller Android tablets that can be purchased for $109 @ Walmart. The reviews were mostly favorable on the tablets. They're worth looking into & let us know a device can be found in the $150 & under range.
More Than Khan
June 12, 2012
Khan Academy is a great add-on, but it is not a substitute for teaching. If Cobb uses only that, this will fail.

Kudos for Hinojosa trying something new, though. Make sure you train your teachers.
East Cobb Parent
June 12, 2012
Mabry Middle used to be on the cutting edge of Technology...yet they are not chosen to participate in this. It just shows how a principal can change the whole outlook for a school based on their own interests. Dr. Tyson (former principal) was technology driven while Merilee Heflin (current principal) is special ed driven.
So true
June 12, 2012
Mabry use to be a good school. Not so much since Dr. Tyson left, and this woman has dictated. It is time for her to move on and take her friends with her.
A Cobb Parent
June 17, 2012
She is probably more interested in special ed because that is where the money is. Schools receive federal funding for special ed not for technology. Same reason high schools push AP classes for students, they receive a higher allotment for AP teachers than regular teachers.
Another debacle
June 12, 2012
I'm 57 years old, work full time and can't afford a smart phone. Yes, I know there are alot of kids that have smart phones and/or their own laptops, but there are alot more that don't, especially in the Floyd and Smitha districts.
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