Each fall and spring the Wake County Public School System (WCPSS) holds its Convergence symposium to bring educational technology and media specialists together from across the largest district in the state of North Carolina. The two-day conference is also a time for classroom educators, school and district-level administrators and out-of-district guests to share their thoughts about the role of technology in education.
Lea(R)n team members have been fortunate to participate in the spring and fall 2016 Convergence symposiums. During the course of multiple presentations with education leaders working in and around Raleigh, North Carolina, we learned about the work being done across the district to determine edtech product approvals based on the needs, goals, and criteria of district and school leaders.
With attendee numbers from both symposiums nearing 200, we were fortunate to hear candid talk about the incredible potential of technology to help our students, as well as some of the challenges involved in making it work. Efficiencies in discovering, measuring and evaluating edtech use can help activate the vision for technology at state, district, and school levels.
A few facts about the Wake County Public School system include:
Average daily enrollment of 159,549 students, making it the largest school system in the state of North Carolina.
For the school year 2016-2017, it’s the 16th largest school system in the country.
The student population has nearly tripled since 1980.
Approximately 10,000 additional children are expected by 2020.
It has the largest number of nationally certified teachers for any school district in the country. (Source: wcpss.net).
It’s no wonder Wake County has seen continued exponential growth in recent years. Among many other 2016 accolades, Forbes has ranked Raleigh on the short list of “America’s Next Boom Towns,” “Best Cities for Young Professionals,” “Easiest Cities for Finding Jobs” and “Hottest Spots for Technology Jobs.” Money Magazine also listed Raleigh as the “Best Big City in the Southeast” just this year.
These numbers only begin to indicate the massive amount of work that must be done to ensure that Wake County remains a hub of innovation and progress. The Convergence symposiums are a very visible reminder of the dedication that district leaders have for their school and central office leaders. A WCPSS central office representative echoed this sentiment when remarking that the purpose of these two days is to bring educational leaders from the Raleigh area together to address issues such as:
Choosing the Right Technology Products - Elementary, middle and high schools have incredibly different considerations for their technology, and because of each school’s unique community, a process to determine what’s working and for which students is incredibly valuable to them.
Sharing their Experience - We talked at length with classroom teachers and technology specialists, all of whom recognize the great potential of educator voices in helping to make edtech-related decisions, and the ability to do so with confidence and clarity.
Knowing the Process - In districts of all sizes, educators feel good about technology when they are confident it is working. That confidence comes from objective data analysis and research-based feedback mechanisms. Our session participants know that when they combine knowledge about what’s approved for use with ongoing training and outcome measurements they can focus on what really matters: Their students.
Because Convergence is held twice a year, every year, WCPSS educators can continue to have these conversations, go back to their schools, and return with even more fuel for personal and professional progress. Lea(R)n is committed to helping drive innovations in the way the district and its schools discover, procure, measure, and evaluate their edtech. Thanks for having us, and we hope to join again in the future!