Todd Dugan is the Superintendent of Bunker Hill CUSD #8 located in rural Bunker Hill, IL. Dugan has been a junior high Social Studies teacher, Principal, and Superintendent. He recently received Illinois State University’s EAF Superintendent of the Year 2018 Award. Prior to that, he received the Tech & Learning Leader of the Year in 2017 for his work in overcoming digital inequity in rural Illinois. A proponent of innovative educational technology, Todd’s passion is ensuring that all students, regardless of geography or socio-economic status, receive an engaging and top-quality education.
The Council supports ILTPP by providing insight from schools, vendors, and other Illinois organizations regarding educational technology products, services, and purchasing best practices. The Council members are leaders in the educational technology and purchasing/procurement fields, serving as Superintendents, Principals, Technology Directors, School Business Officers or Managers, and liaisons to other Illinois organizations.
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Below, check out Todd’s recent book review of The New Agenda: Achieving Personalized Learning Through Digital Convergence by Dr. Shawn K. Smith in the Illinois ASBO 2019 Fall UPDATE Publication.
Digital Convergence: When Kids Learn Best
As the world rapidly accelerates with technology advancements, schools continue to adapt, yet often find themselves struggling to keep up. Rather than simply adding devices to classrooms, what schools need is to, “transform our traditional classrooms into modern learning environments,” uniting education and technology forever in order to sustain this model of 21st century personalized learning: Digital Convergence.
If your district is either on the path to a 1:1 learning environment, planning for this eventually or in the midst of it with numerous challenges, then The New Agenda: Achieving Personalized Learning Through Digital Convergence is a book you may want to consider perusing. The entire process of transforming teaching and learning in the digital age is examined, as well as tips to shape the direction from deployment to differentiated learning.
As a rural, downstate superintendent that led my former district to one of the earliest 1:1 conversions, and is in the midst of planning the same or my current district, I was able to relate with several of the struggles identified. Such as, the desire to simplify a potentially messy mass technology deployment with a single point solution, forcing a “one size fits all” model. These approaches, intended to transform learning, instead lead to very traditional classrooms with devices present. The lack of a unified, systemic approach has often led to massive (and expensive) technology deployments that fail to focus on 21st century skills, such as creativity, collaboration, critical thinking and communication.
In order to successfully achieve personalized learning through digital convergence, author Shawn K. Smith suggests five components that must be addressed in the planning process: leadership, instructional models, modern curriculum, digital ecosystems and professional learning.
What I found most profound was a simple statement referenced several times throughout: “Kids learn best when…?” This rationale truly needs to be the “why” of every shift toward personalized and blended learning. Otherwise, districts run the risk of falling short of the ultimate goal: shifting the focus from the instructor to the learner.
The value in guiding all conversations toward this essential question makes this book not only a resource in regard to educational technology, but also to overall school improvement, which hopefully would become your district’s new agenda.