Technology in the classroom is all about choice and voice, according to Angelique Nedved, an assistant superintendent with the Lawrence Public Schools (LPS) in Kansas. Whether it’s a student’s voice or a teacher’s, it’s about empowering people to be heard within the school system and making choices that will allow for better learning.
The LPS initiative, Implementation of Personalized Learning and Blended Environments, is one example of this philosophy. “Our goal first and foremost is to help our students achieve socially, emotionally and academically so they can be successful as they graduate,” Nedved said. “We support their growth and encourage them to become strong self-advocates. It’s about their learning style, their choices.”
The same goes for teachers in the district. Nedved models the personalized learning they’d like to see in the classroom during professional learning seminars. In other words, they aren’t “sit and get” sessions, she explained. The initiative wasn’t directed by the central office for individual schools to adopt. Rather, it has been promoted as a voluntary program.
“The blended environment for us means they’re learning from traditional activities in the classroom, infusing a blended digital curriculum, online learning, as well as more student agency,” she said. “They’re recognizing the benefits of both of those and how to blend them together. We tried to be purposeful that one is not better than the other.”
Nedved is in her fourth year as assistant superintendent of teaching and learning. She has been with LPS for 13 years, working as a building principal and a director of curriculum and instruction. Her approach to education technology grew organically after seeing students use technology on a daily basis as they arrived or left school, but power down when they were in the building.
“Can we be effective without technology? Absolutely. It’s not an either/or,” she said. “It’s just recognizing the power of incorporating technology and how you do that mindfully. It’s about engaging our parents and community because teaching and learning doesn’t just happen within the school walls.” —Jennifer Snelling