Ray Huard …..Vista Unified School District has won a national award for “breaking new ground in the use of digital content and curriculum” by helping students and their families acquire low-cost refurbished computers and get Internet access at reduced prices.
“I am thrilled that we have been recognized for our continued efforts to transform student learning experiences and opportunities,” Vista Unified Superintendent Devin Vodicka said.
“The award validates the hard work of our teachers, librarians and library media technicians, content support resource teachers, and the leadership team,” Vodicka said. “In addition, special thanks should be extended to our information and technology experts who provide support behind the scenes.”
Vista Unified was one of five school districts across the country with more than 12,000 students to be given Digital Content and Curriculum Awards June 28 by the Center for Digital Education (CDE) in collaboration with the International Society for Technology in Education for having innovative programs to bring digital technology to their students.
The others were Rowan-Salisbury Schools in North Carolina, Coachella Valley Unified School District in eastern Riverside County, Katy Independent School District in Texas, and Wilson County School District in Tennessee.
Based in Folsom, CDE is a national research and advisory institute specializing in kindergarten through high school and higher education technology trends, policy and funding, according to its website (http://www.centerdigitaled.com/about/).
As part of its drive to ensure that all students have access to digital technology, Vista Unified formed a partnership with Computers 2SD Kids (C25DK) to enable families to buy refurbished computers and received reduced price Internet service from Cox Communications.
“That was a big deal to bring computers to our families because we knew that learning had to be expanded at home,” said Erin English, district director of online and blended learning and principal of Vista Visions Academy.
The ultimate goal is for every student to have Internet access at home, English said. She said that the district has already achieved its goal of having enough computer tablets so that every student has access to one in school, and some are assigned tablets to take home.
The CDE award is significant “because it’s honoring the work we’ve been doing over the past four years, converting from paper and pencil to digital,” English said. “It’s not just about all the accomplishments, but some of the struggles we’ve had, some of the challenges we’ve had in providing a 21st century learning environment for our kids. It’s validating that we’re on the right track.”
In announcing the awards, CDE Executive Director Kecia Ray said, “It’s exciting to see schools all over the country are moving from pilot projects to full-scale implementation of digital content and curriculum.”
“This year’s honorees are taking the practice of education to new heights that show great promise for other districts to follow,” Ray said.