As is typical in the digital world, things are moving along quickly for implementation of the Gwinnett County Public Schools digital classroom, also known as eCLASS.
Already it had been announced that eCLASS would roll out on a pilot basis in 2012-13 in 33 schools. However, GCPS officials said at the Jan. 9 Gwinnett Board of Education meeting that all teachers will begin using the gradebook portion for such functions as attendance and record-keeping in 2012-13.
Then, if the year one pilot goes well, all schools would have access to curriculum and instruction in language arts, math, science, social studies, elementary visual arts and Spanish I in 2013-14. The eCLASS push then would include all curriculum in the planned five-year rollout.
School officials gave school board members a briefing on eCLASS on Thursday. Some highlights:
- Students will be allowed to use their own digital devices "more and more." The system is studying how to best integrate personal technology into the classroom and so is expanding Wi-fi capabilities. As far as GCPS purchasing devices for students to use, "budget considerations" are cited. However, it's likely that shared resources will come into play.
- "eCLASS is not device-driven," according to the briefing. "Technology is merely one tool that classroom teachers will use to increase engagement."
- When will textbooks go away? Not immediately. "There is still a need for print materials in the classroom."
- To the question of "Will teachers still be needed," the answer: "It is the teacher who makes the instructional choices and designs the instruction, and that can't be replaced."
- The current parent portal will continue to be the access point for parents, and student access will be developed through a portal sign-on.
- Assessment will be handled in various ways, including "automation and artificial intelligence." Plans now are for teachers to use the eCLASS assessment tool in year two.
- The district will begin previewing tools and some content during the rest of the school year.