“Tech opens up the world for our students. It allows them to see beyond the community,” says Jaraun Dennis, the chief technology officer of Uinta County public schools in Wyoming. “They have access to things that students and professionals around the world are doing.” Still, he says, “it’s not about the technology or the tools. It’s about what’s best for the students.” For the 2800 kids in this rural community, that means laptops for every student in grades 3-12 and a focus on teaching students how to reason and solve problems creatively and collaboratively.
At the elementary school level, a group project might involve students working together to design and print 3D mazes for ball bearings to travel through. Once in middle school, students collaborate on programming robots and drones and can join after-school robotics clubs. This continues in high school, where one team won third place in a national competition for its fingerprint reader, which students designed for use in emergencies, but discovered could also be used to take attendance.
Thanks to these digital learning tools and the emphasis on collaboration, students are no longer working in isolation. Instead, they are learning from each other, being held accountable by programs that track their individual contributions, and creating all kinds of projects for school-wide innovation expos.