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Column: Digital convergence and the KCSD
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Shane Robbins

When I arrived in South Carolina nearly 10 months ago, we started a conversation at the Kershaw County School District that would begin to transform the way we think about teaching and learning for our students. To begin this process, our leadership team did a deep dive into the previous AdvancED Accreditation Engagement Review Team report and student achievement data. Coincidentally, this past fall, we had another visit from an AdvancED Accreditation Engagement Review Team. It is a laborsome process; however, AdvancED’s Continuous Improvement System is designed to help elevate the voice of our entire education community. The Engagement Review Team gathers data from a sampling of all our stakeholders -- administrators, teachers, students, parents and staff. This data provides the team with evidence to assess our education quality against a set of research-based School Quality Factors.

There were a number of common themes from the final report five years ago and the most recent report. Some were the identification of positive practices while others were continued opportunities for growth. One of the areas for growth is the utilization of digital tools across our school district. Two key points identified for this topic were the lack of a focused plan to embed technology in a modern (21st century) learning environment at all levels (PK-12) and protocols utilized to determine the effectiveness of implemented strategies.

In addition, we have been mindful of the description of our school district as a system of schools and not a school system. This has been the driving force behind our “digital convergence.” Digital convergence offers our school district a way to develop a strategic approach to the integration of instructional and curricular innovation with technology tools to modernize learning at scale. One of the strategies to assist us in this process is the use of Professional Learning Communities (PLCs). We recently conducted our first “Delayed Start Wednesday” where teachers across the district were in PLCs, training on the digital tools they are and will be using. This training is essential for our staff to become comfortable, confident and proficient in this environment. This will also help us set the stage for new opportunities for teachers -- opportunities for innovation, purposeful learning, authentic assessments and a culture that promotes professional learning. Our guiding principle is based on the belief that “we will empower and challenge all students to become productive members of a globally dynamic society.”

I couldn’t be happier with the progress we are making. While it may look and feel like several things happening at once, this plan is designed to allow us to streamline what we are doing with the highest level of efficacy. As we embark on this journey, I encourage you to stay connected on our progress by following us on our district Twitter account (@kcsdschools) where we will be giving you a glimpse into classrooms as they are making the transition to modern learning environments. We are confident that this is the right work to prepare all of our students for the ever changing world in which they live. I am excited to collaborate with teachers and leaders who are ready to lead our “#mykcsd” initiative. I continue to be inspired and energized by the commitment and dedication throughout our district.

Please feel free to contact me with questions about our district; my email address is shane.robbins@kcsdschools.net. Citizens can also contact me through the “Ask the Super” link on the homepage of the district website at www.kcsdschools.net.