Posts Tagged ‘Technology’

Future Ready Survival Skills

Thursday, February 25th, 2016

AUTHOR: Leslie Barrett, Education Specialist: Instructional Technology & Library Media Services

Are we meeting the mark when it comes to preparing students for success in their post-graduate lives?

Tony Wagner, Expert In Residence at Harvard University’s Innovation Lab, wondered the same thing. He conducted interviews with leaders in major global businesses, non-profits, and government institutions and discovered that students regularly fall short in seven specific skill areas that are essential for success in today’s innovation-centric economy. As you read through Wagner’s seven “survival” skills below, consider what practices you can implement or enhance in your classroom, campus, or district to help your students become future ready.

Critical Thinking & Problem Solving

According to Wagner’s definition, critical thinking is the ability to ask the right questions. Are we asking questions that require little more mental consideration than a Google search on a student’s smart phone? The use of Document Based Questions (DBQs ) in social studies and the Claim Evidence Reasoning (CER) framework in science are two ways to help students develop critical thinking skills in the context of content area instruction. When too many of our questions result in one right answer out of a possible 4 multiple choice options, we are missing opportunities to engage students in rich conversations in which they explain their thinking and justify their reasoning.

Collaboration & Leadership

In seeking solutions to problems, employees in the workforce will rarely work in isolation. They will be expected to collaborate with peers within organizational teams and access the input of a network of professional experts from across the globe. In contrast, the measure of success in our classrooms is based on the performance of the individual working alone. While we can’t always change our testing and grading structure, we can create opportunities for students to work in collaborative groups that are structured so that each member of the group is held accountable for his/her contribution. In addition, we can teach students how to safely access the input of experts using digital connections like social media and virtual conferencing.

Agility & Adaptability

We are living in a fast-paced and quickly changing time. Information, technology, and the problems organizations are working to solve are constantly changing. Employees need to be able to change alongside the demands of the job and adapt easily to new and evolving circumstances. Are we providing flexible learning environments that encourage students to identify and adapt elements that contribute to their maximum productivity? Are we creating opportunities for students to iterate; to observe and improve their own output? How often do we say to students, “Oh, that didn’t work. What other ideas do you have?”

Initiative & Entrepreneurism

An entrepreneurial spirit means harnessing opportunities and capitalizing on strengths to create products and services to fill needs. How often do we give students the freedom to think outside the box and provide innovative and creative ways to demonstrate their understanding of academic concepts? How often do we let them offer solutions to problems that may be occurring in the classroom, the school, the world? If we are always telling them what to do, how will they develop initiative and the ability to meet needs on their own?

Effective Oral & Written Communication

Through his research, Wagner discovered that students entering the workforce are severely deficient in their ability to speak and/or write. The problem is less about grammar and mechanics and more about students being unable to articulate their thinking in a logical manner with a compelling voice and persuasive argumentation. Reliance on the formulaic writing strategies traditionally used in classrooms restricts the critical thinking component that is necessary for effective communication. Do we let students write about topics they are passionate about? Are we giving them opportunities to write frequently in all subject areas? How often do we ask students deep questions and then give them sufficient “wait time” to develop and/or revise their oral responses? How often do we ask them to articulate the thinking behind their answers?

Accessing & Analyzing Information

Wagner says we have moved from a “knowledge economy” to an “innovation era”. When information is readily available 24 hours a day, the knowledge you possess is less valuable than what you are able to do with that knowledge. The true skill is being able to quickly access information and effectively analyze it for accuracy and relevance to the task. How often are we incorporating web-based texts in our instruction? Are we teaching students how to determine the reliability of the information they encounter online? Is research still only something we do during library time, or is it a part of regular instruction in all content areas?

Curiosity & Imagination

Innovation comes from curiosity and imagination. People who can ask the right questions and locate or iterate the answers to their questions are the people who are able to come up with unique products and services for a fast-paced world. How often do we encourage and allow students time to follow their curiosity and employ their imagination? Do we make time for Genius Hour during the school day? Have you thought about creating a Makerspace on campus for students?

By approaching our instructional practices with an awareness of these future ready survival skills we can look for opportunities to complement our traditional activities with new ideas for a new time.


Wagner, T. (2008). Rigor redefined. Educational Leadership, 66 (2). Retrieved from

STEM Essential Elements to STEMify the Classroom

Friday, September 25th, 2015

AUTHOR: Dr. Grant Kessler,  STEM Specialist – Curriculum & Instruction

An important goal for all students — regardless of interest in focused STEM content — is STEM literacy. There is an increasingly technical aspect to almost everything in which we engage, both at work and in our daily lives; students will need STEM literacy to be successful in their personal and professional futures. Therefore, STEM literacy should be emphasized across all grade levels and subject areas.

What does this means for education? As educators, we must prepare our students to thrive in a STEM-based world by integrating STEM into our work whenever possible. Students must learn how to appropriately utilize the Internet, demonstrate the confidence to learn new technologies, be mathematically functional and able to apply scientifically-sound thinking, and be capable and self-sufficient problem-solvers.

Well-designed learning experiences encourage students to quickly see the importance and applicability of STEM; students and educators should view the STEM components as working in tandem. A STEM-ified lesson is not just science or technology or engineering or math; it includes notions of science and technology and engineering and math. Importantly, not every component has to be in every lesson. Instead a blending of the four components, which allow students to make real-world connections, is what works well in practice.

STEM education should provide an engaging and problem-driven process for students to learn. This approach is effective and transferable across all content areas for all students. Schools can improve and encourage STEM literacy in a number of ways, from a single classroom to a district-wide initiative. The key element of STEM learning is the integration of the four core subjects into larger, cross-disciplinary projects designed for students to solve problems and gain real world insights. We seek to avoid imparting fragmented pieces of knowledge with no application.

Implementing STEM into the classroom begins with organizing and delivering learning experiences in such a way that students understand the connections within and between content areas, see relevance in their learning, and build capacity through authentic utilization of 21st century and content skills. The STEM Essentials provide the platform from which teachers can STEMify student learning while using a variety of delivery approaches.


By implementing STEM best practices, educators can provide meaningful real-world learning experiences that go beyond the classroom and become transferable skills that are necessary for students to be competitive in the global economy. Explore the STEM Essentials & Their Key Components document and consider how they can be used to align current instruction with the end goal of STEMifying instruction.

Transformation Central Texas STEM Center will publish a straightforward and practical process for educators to STEMify learning for all students in the book, “A Blueprint for Building a STEM Program: Integrate, Innovate, Inspire.” For more information visit This resource is highly recommended for educators of all content areas, pre-K through grade 12.

For resources, strategic planning and implementation support, contact Grant Kessler ( at Region 13.

Making a Case for Information Literacy

Friday, November 21st, 2014

Author:  Leslie Barrett, Education Specialist: Technology & Library Media Services

Information literacy. What is it? Quite simply, it is the ability to sift through an abundant quantity of information to find what you need to accurately answer a question you have. It is knowing how to refine an information search to get a smaller but more accurate selection of resources to answer your question (i.e., “puma NOT shoes”). And it is knowing when one source (National Geographic) may be more reliable than another source (Bob’s Blog About Cool Science Stuff).

So why does it matter? The information landscape of today’s digital world is changing at incredible rates. According to Gonzalez (2004), the “half-life of knowledge,” or the time between acquiring knowledge and the obsolescence of that knowledge, is shrinking. Effectiveness in today’s workforce requires knowing how to stay current on the most up-to-date information possible. “As knowledge continues to grow and evolve, access to what is needed is more important than what the learner currently possesses” (Siemens, 2005). Knowing how to find out is rapidly replacing knowing. Information literacy is knowing how to find out.

We are seeing more and more digital devices being included in classrooms to facilitate the learning process. This creates perfect opportunities to make sure we are integrating information literacy skills into our content area instruction. Fortunately, some common threads of information literacy are already woven into the process standards of the four major content area TEKS. Consider the following TEKS examples:

 ELAR Research Strand

Students are expected to know how to locate a range of relevant sources and evaluate, synthesize, and present ideas and information.

ELAR Figure 19

Students are expected to apply deep comprehension strategies when reading such as:

establish a purpose for reading,

ask questions of the text,

make connections (text to self, text, community),

make inferences and support with text evidence,

summarize, and

monitor and adjust comprehension.

 Social Studies Process Standards

Students are expected to use a problem-solving process to identify a problem, gather information, list and consider options, consider advantages and disadvantages, choose and implement a solution, and evaluate the effectiveness of the solution.

Science Process Standards

In all fields of science, students are expected to analyze, evaluate, and critique scientific explanations by using empirical evidence, logical reasoning, and experimental and observational testing, including examining all sides of scientific evidence of those scientific explanations, so as to encourage critical thinking by the student. In addition, students will evaluate the accuracy of the information related to promotional materials for products and services such as nutritional labels.

Mathematics Process Standards

Students will use a problem-solving model that incorporates analyzing given information, formulating a plan or strategy, determining a solution, justifying the solution, and evaluating the problem-solving process and the reasonableness of the solution.

In creating learning activities around these standards, teachers can incorporate opportunities for students to search the web and databases of scholarly resources to find information to support their content understanding. When Google searches produce information that is inaccurate or too broad, the opportunity exists to teach students ways to refine searches or access more scholarly sources to yield more effective results. With the return of state funded database access through teachers in Texas public schools and open enrollment charter schools will have free/low cost access to digital academic resources to support information literacy integration. Your campus librarian can be a fantastic resource to assist teachers in integrating information literacy skills into instruction, but it is important that information literacy skills integration is occurring regularly in classroom activities and not just on occasional library visits.

As the “basis for lifelong learning” (ACRL, 2000), information literacy is one of the greatest skills we can instill in our students. The increasing availability of technology in our classrooms makes integrating information literacy skills into instruction an attainable goal.



ACRL. (2000). Information literacy competency standards for higher education. Retrieved from

Gonzalez, C. (2004). The role of blended learning in the world of technology. Retrieved from

Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. Retrieved from

Connected Learning — a Framework for Innovation in the Classroom

Friday, September 26th, 2014

Author: Jennifer Woollven, Education Specialist, Instructional Technology

There is a lot of talk in the world of education about 21st century skills and preparing our students for a new world — plenty of inspiring (and not so inspiring) 21st century videos can be found on Youtube. Online tools and platforms available to teachers can be transformative to the classroom experience, but they can also be overwhelming. How does a teacher keep up with everything that is available? Which tools will be best for our learning outcomes? I’ve certainly been guilty of being dazzled by the bells and whistles of a tool only to realize that underneath the glitter was the same old traditional approach that centers around the content or the instructor, but not the student. This is the shift we must make. Are students driving their learning experiences in your classrooms? Once this in place, the tools that will be most appropriate for helping students innovate, create, and problem solve will be apparent — in fact your students probably make those decisions on their own. (Let them! There is incredible power in allowing student voice and choice.)

So, as educators how do we get there? Constructivist learning theory centers on the learner and how he or she constructs meaning, but it does not address the connected, digital world that our students must live and thrive in. Connected Learning is the evolution of constructivism and seeks to address how we learn in a connected world. Connected learning theory as defined by the Digital Media and Learning Hub and the Connected Learning Alliance (CLA)…

is a model of learning that holds out the possibility of reimagining the experience of education in the information age. It draws on the power of today’s technology to fuse young people’s interests, friendships, and academic achievement through experiences laced with hands-on production, shared purpose, and open networks.

The six Connected Learning principles are production centered, interest driven, shared purpose, peer culture, openly networked, and academic. To find out more about each of the principles and to see examples of them in action visit

Curating Social Studies Content on Pinterest

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

Author: Rachel Hernandez-Eckert, Education Specialist:  Social Studies

Have you ever torn pages out of a magazine and put them on a bulletin board or in a folder labeled Great Ideas? Although that is still a practical way to collect ideas from a tangible item in your hand, how do you save digital content in the same way?  I have taken to saving digital content through Pinterest, the free online pinning board.  Although most people use Pinterest for style, food and craft ideas, I recommend using it as an educational resource for finding Social Studies specific content, obtaining ideas for instructional practices and curating your own content.

With Pinterest, you have the flexibility to:

  • Create boards based on what you teach or even establish boards by unit or theme.
  • Connect with others in the Social Studies world, like me, and see what content your peers haveon their boards.  (You can follow my Social Studies boards at:
  • Connect to institutions like the Smithsonian Museum or PBS and pin digital archive pieces, videos and lessons ideas posted by these groups.
  • Search for content based on the Social Studies TEKS.  For example, type Galveston Hurricane, 1900, (Texas History 7.10B) in the search box to find pictures of the hurricane destruction in Galveston.  Or search for a specific historical figure such as Nelson Mandela (World History 22E), to see a mélange of quotes, images and video clips about his life.
  • Cruise elementary boards and secondary boards for ideas and vice versa. I found elementary anchor charts for building literacy in the classroom that would work to enhance secondary Social Studies instruction…love it!
  • Curate your work or student work.  Here’s an example of a picture that I pinned from a workshop I led a few months back.  I wanted to record examples of an Observe, Reflect and Question analysis activity using a primary source print from the Library of Congress.   I took a picture of the completed posters from the workshop and posted them a Pinterest board with an explanation of the activity.  Now when I am working with other teachers, I can pull up the picture so they can see an example of what the activity looks like.

The great thing about Pinterest is that you can still keep it personal and retain the boards you may have already established or even create “secret boards” so others will not see the boards dedicated to your secret love of cats or the board entitled, Lotto Funded…Keep Dreaming. A word of caution: you can get sucked in to Pinterest, ignore your family and your grading responsibilities.  Kidding aside, consider limiting your perusal time each day or utilizing other free moments of time for pinning.  Lastly, make a concerted effort to go back to your pins and consider real application of these ideas in your classroom instruction…because what is the point of all of this if you don’t actually use it?


Broadband is Key

Friday, March 29th, 2013

Author:  Matt Holloway, Education Specialist, Special Education

Broadband has become as essential to our schools as water or electricity.

– Culatta, Richard, acting director of the U.S.  Department of Educational Technology.  Emerging Technology Panel.  SXSWedu.  Austin, TX, 5 March, 2013.


As more and more is asked of teachers in terms of instructional accountability, rigor and differentiation, leaders ask themselves what can be done to support these expectations. Technology, while not a panacea, can be a tremendous boost to student performance when implemented responsibly and with a goal towards personalization.

Educators may be confused by the current definition of the term “personalized learning” in edTech circles: a highly responsive computer program that adjusts academic tasks to a student’s performance, attention span, interest level and learning profile.  The personalization concept here refers to the individually-tailored learning tasks that students complete rather than the student-teacher relationship.

The teacher does not become less important in this system.  Skilled teachers may be better able to attend more fully to the higher conceptual tasks inherent in the curriculum when they identify and use effective computer software apps to reinforce foundational academic skills (e.g., spelling, math facts).  A computer will never be able to replicate the learning experience of thoughtful, engaging dialogue and lesson content as delivered by a human being.

This shared academic load – with computer programs providing the rote learning and teachers the creation of nuanced, higher-level learning experiences – is currently being called “blended learning.” This concept closely reflects the engagement of the general population in electronic devices.  A key tenet of the Texas High Performance Schools Consortium (2012) calls for “future-ready students engaged and challenged in a digitally rich learning environment that results in students who are prepared for the life and work competencies essential to thriving in our global society.”

What are the key challenges to such a vision?  How do we ensure access to a “digitally rich learning environment”? In short: broadband capacity. As more learning software becomes available online, schools will need to have sufficient connectivity to keep up with the demand, and the capacity to evaluate the educational value and effectiveness of new software.

The United States Department of Education is preparing for a major investment in schools’ connectivity. According to Richard Culatta, acting director of the U.S. Department of Educational Technology, information collected from school districts will be used in Senate testimony to advocate for funds and support to school districts whose Internet capacity is not up to speed. All campuses, but especially those in rural areas, are strongly encouraged to visit and share campus/district connectivity data.

Under the guiding hand of professional educators, technology can be leveraged to improve learning outcomes for students while allowing for more meaningful classroom instruction. Act now to support equality of access to the 21st Century Learning Environment for all students.



Texas High Performance Schools Consortium. Update on the Progress of the Texas High Performance Schools Consortium. Texas Education Agency, December 2012.

OnTRACK Social Studies Lessons Now Available!

Friday, March 29th, 2013

Author: Rachel Hernandez, Social Studies Education Specialist

OnTRACK courses for World Geography, World History and high school U.S. History have been made available through TEA’s Project Share initiative.  These lessons are intended to supplement classroom instruction and provide teachers and students with a resource for intervention.  Teachers in K-12 public and charter schools currently have access to Project Share, an online learning community developed by TEA.  The lessons available in OnTRACK vary by course and are TEKS driven.  U.S. History, for example, has lessons available on the Progressive Era, Social Welfare Reforms, The Spanish-American War, U.S. Expansionism, Great Depression, Japanese
Internment, Korean War and Civil Rights.  The entire course has 6 units with a total of 45 lessons that incorporate engaging content through interactive experiences.  A lesson example from the module on Social Welfare Reform includes an introduction on Upton Sinclair and a short reading excerpt from Sinclair’s book, The Jungle.  Students can try an interactive exercise matching vocabulary and watch brief video segments on the impact of Upton Sinclair as a reform leader.  Mini-assessments are included in the modules for you to assess student learning.  The best aspect of these courses is the ability for you to modify, add or remove content to make the course customized to your liking.


A few items are worth noting:

1. OnTRACK lessons do not address all of the Social Studies standards for each respective course.

2. OnTRACK Social Studies courses should not be used by districts to provide course credit to students. (Why not?  See point #1).

3. You can use OnTRACK lessons to support individualized intervention or use all or part of a lesson with a class or group of students.

4. You need to spend “sandbox time” exploring the course lessons and consider ways to blend these resources into lessons that you already have for extended learning and review.


The bottom line is that these lessons are a great resource for you and your students; how you use them is entirely up to you.

Please note:  TEA has plans to add Grade 8 Social Studies and Bible Literacy courses to the OnTRACK offering list in the spring of 2013.  Additional lessons will also be added to the existing courses sometime in the near future.

Flipped Classrooms

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

Author:  Leslie Barrett, Technology & Library Media Services Specialist


Flipped classrooms.  Flipped learning.  If you haven’t heard these education buzz words in the past 12 months, chances are good that you will hear them in the next. They refer to a concept, a method of teaching, that is gaining attention and popularity in schools and classrooms of creative teachers trying to meet student needs in an increasingly diverse and technology rich world.


What, exactly, is a “flipped classroom”?  In the most general terms, a flipped classroom is one in which the content of a lesson is delivered outside of class time (usually as homework consisting of a pre-recorded video lecture), and the practice portion of the lesson is carried out during class time with teacher guidance.  The concept of flipped learning has been around for a while, but it was most recently popularized by two chemistry teachers, Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams.  While co-teaching in a rural Colorado high school, Bergmann and Sams were looking for a better way to guide students through the application phase of their learning.  “The time when students really need me physically present is when they get stuck and need my individual help.  They don’t need me there in the room with them to yak at them and give them content; they can receive content on their own.”  (Sams 29)  They started recording their lectures using a screencast software called Camtasia and made the videos available for students to watch as homework.  Class time was utilized for students to conduct labs and work on content problems and activities while the teacher circulated among students offering guidance.  Bergmann and Sams later wrote a book, Flip Your Classroom: Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day, in which they give readers details about the evolution of their flipped classroom, describe the flipped classroom models and steps they employed, and share their observations on how flipping their classroom has impacted student achievement.  “We had seen our students learning chemistry more deeply than ever before, and we were convinced.  Our method was changing students’ abilities to become self-directed learners.”  (Bergmann & Sams 42)


Executed thoughtfully, there are many benefits to flipping a classroom.  When students watch the content lecture on their own time they have the power to slow down or speed up the lecture to meet their individual learning needs.  They can rewind and review difficult or confusing concepts.  They come to class equipped with the foundation information necessary to engage in learning activities that incorporate the new information.  Students are not left to struggle with content application at home for homework without the benefit of the teacher nearby to answer questions or provide clarification.  Instead of using class time to lecture, the teacher can circulate through individual or small groups of students checking for understanding, guiding deeper thinking, answering questions, and addressing student needs on a more individualized level.  The teacher no longer assumes the role of dispenser of information, but instead becomes a facilitator of learning as students absorb and apply the content.  A flipped classroom model provides more in-class opportunities for teachers to individualize and differentiate instruction to meet a wide range of student needs.  Flipped classrooms can create more student-centered learning environments where the ownership of learning shifts from the teacher to the student.


There are, however, many who disagree with the flipped model of learning.  Critics argue that not all students have access to the technology necessary to view the lecture videos outside of class.  Videos often are hosted on YouTube or other similar video hosting sites that are blocked in many school environments.  And, let’s face it, students don’t always do their homework, often for legitimate reasons.  If students can’t view the lecture videos, how are they going to receive the content delivery?   Arguments are also made that “lecture” is not the most effective method of teaching, and opponents of homework in general are definitely not in the flipped classroom camp.


Like any other innovation in education, flipping the classroom is something that requires careful thought and planning.  It is not the answer to every problem schools today are facing.  It is merely an attempt to create more time during the class day for individualized instruction and to nurture a more student-centered learning environment.  It is a model that capitalizes on students’ innate interest in and facility with technology. There is no rule book or strict formula for schools or teachers to follow to implement a flipped learning model–teachers can use the bits and pieces that work for each unique situation.  As you are presented with increasingly more information buzz on the topic of flipped classrooms, the most important thing to keep in mind are the students.  Would your students benefit from a flipped classroom model?



If you are interested in learning more about flipping your classroom, please join us on February 20, 2013 for our Mastering the Flipped Classroom workshop (SP1325597).


Bergmann, Jonathan, and Aaron Sams. Flip Your Classroom: Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day. Eugene, Or.: International Society for Technology in Education, 2012.

From Chalkboard to the Circuit Board: An Overview of iPad Deployment in Region 13

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

Author:  Jonathan Delgado -Education Specialist: Data & Accountability Systems

 You’ll likely spot it if you take a stroll in downtown Austin or through Main Street in Burnet: someone using a tablet or smartphone. Technology seems to have finally struck a meeting point of ease of use with a low price point. With that, it was only a matter of time before devices like Apple’s iPad found their way into the classroom. Across the nation, iPads are being utilized across all grade levels as an instrument for classroom instruction. This school year, many districts within Region 13 are deploying iPads for a number of purposes.  iPads allow students to work on projects, correspond with teachers, track their assignments, take notes, turn in homework, view grades, and in many cases, will serve as a replacement for huge and heavy textbooks. The days of students using chalk or a whiteboard, it seems, are slowly coming to an end.

Aside from its classroom function, iPads also serve as a simple way that the school district can communicate with their community. McDade and Flatonia ISDs have both developed an application that you can install on your iPhone or iPad that will display current school announcements, upcoming campus events, and list a directory of school and staff contact information. Hays CISD has a similar application and also supports the functionality of allowing parents to pay for students’ cafeteria balance. The iPad and iPhone are virtually always connected to the Internet, and parents and the communities have an always-on connection to their school district.

At the start of the 2012-13 school year, an estimated 10 school districts within Region 13 have some type of program to provide students with an iPad in a particular grade level or at a specific campus. The most ambitious of these programs is from Eanes ISD, which is piloting an iPad program at Westlake High School which allows every junior and senior to receive an iPad for instruction. The district has purchased about 1,700 iPads and hopes to keep the program well into the future. The following districts also have respective iPad programs:

  • Comal ISD – Recently approved the purchase of an iPad for district teachers with the eventual goal of having a tablet available for all middle and high school students.
  • Comfort ISD –During the September Board meeting, the district approved the purchase of iPads for every teacher to be used as an instructional tool.
  • Dripping Springs ISD – 4th grade students of Dripping Springs Elementary use an iPad for classroom learning and group projects.
  • Eanes ISD –Westlake High School students receive and use an iPad for instruction.
  • Gonzales ISD – Piloting a program for the use of iPads in the first grade.
  • Hays CISD – Received a $3,000 IBM Community Service Grant for the purchase of iPads for students.
  • Leander ISD – Has a BYOT (Bring Your Own Technology) program that allows students the use of an iPad, laptop, or smartphone from Kindergarten through 12th grade.
  • Manor ISD – All high school students will receive in iPad for instruction. Manor is also piloting iPad programs at the elementary and middle school level but not at a 1:1 ratio.
  • New Braunfels ISD – Incoming freshman have received an iPad and the entire Grade 9-12 population will receive the device next fall.
  • San Marcos CISD – Piloting a program at Travis Elementary where one of two devices are being used to support classroom instruction: iPad and Amazon’s Kindle. The district hopes to provide access to all students in the near future.

These school districts are in good company. In 2011, Apple, Inc. reported that approximately 400 school districts had begun to use the iPad to replace traditional tools like textbooks and paper gradebooks. Many administrators agree that devices like the iPad are not just about getting a “cool” device into the classroom but instead are about increasing student learning and thinking outside of the box.