Clarke Community Schools is leaps and bounds ahead of many other Iowa school districts with the polished integration of technology into curriculum from elementary through high school.
Since 2012, the school has incorporated several new technologies into the classroom to aid students’ learning. Clarke students in grades 3 through 12 each have their own school-supplied iPad, providing access to thousands of educational resources including online textbooks and more – right at their fingertips. Both students and parents use Infinite Campus, a web-based portal, to see assignment and grade updates in real-time. The user-friendly software keeps students aware of their class standing so they can ask questions about grades and maintain more direct contact with teachers. Teachers and administrators have witnessed firsthand the improvement of students’ learning since the introduction of these technologies, and with the addition of high-end projectors and high-speed Internet connections, they hope to continue to integrate cutting-edge strategies in the future.
Most central Iowa schools have iPads to rent on an as-needed basis. In this sense, the Clarke Community School district may benefit from being smaller, where high school and middle school students are given an iPad they can take home with them. The only restriction is that the iPads prevent students from accessing non-educational websites. Elementary students are allowed to use their iPads at school only. Teachers also use school-supplied iPads and various applications to teach active, hands-on programs. All iPads were funded by a grant from the Clarke County Development Corporation.
Students can also access a number of textbooks online with their iPads. This alleviates the burden of carrying heavy textbooks back and forth from school. Some programs allow the students to complete and turn in assignments online, strengthening accountability and building communication skills. Clarke administrators hope to connect with textbook distributors to provide more online options in the future. The accessibility of online textbooks helps students complete assignments more efficiently, prevents them from forgetting items at school or at home, and allows greater in-class collaboration.
To accommodate the new iPads, the high school installed nearly 100 new access points for wireless devices. The entire district installed all-new fiber optics for faster Internet that also accounts for anticipated community growth.
“Technology doesn’t replace the teacher, but it is a vital tool in teaching our students. We’re investigating other devices like ChromeBooks and other tablets to advance their learning. We’re currently finishing the integration of active whiteboards in some classrooms and installing ceiling projectors and sound systems in every classroom. We realize the importance of these technologies on student’s growth,” says Clarke Superintendent Steve Seid.
It’s evident that the district is determined to keep Clarke Schools ahead of the curve, which is unique outside larger school districts where many schools aren’t able to integrate or even access this kind of technology.
These advancements are, without question, enhancing the education of Clarke Community Schools’ students. Working with new technologies gives the students experiences that could possibly steer them toward obtaining jobs in tech—a field that is growing in Iowa and constantly in demand. Whether students choose to pursue a technology career or not, they’re surging ahead of students who don’t have access to these modern devices.
As Clarke Schools continue to modernize their classrooms, the city of Osceola and Clarke County continues to benefit with the output of smart, capable and contemporary citizens.
If you’d like more information about the technology integration in Clarke Community Schools, contact Steve Seid, Clarke Community Schools Superintendent, 802 North Jackson, Osceola, IA 50213 | Phone: 641.342.4969 | e-mail: [email protected] | web: www.Clarke.k12.ia.us