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Report: District Use of Social Networks up 44 Percent over 2 Years

The Center for Digital Education (CDE) and the National School Boards Association (NSBA) have released key findings of the latest Digital School Districts Survey and have named top-10 districts in three classifications.

Social networking is up significantly, according to the survey, with 74 percent of respondents reporting that their district maintains a presence on at least one social network, an increase of 44 percent over two years. Use of micro-blogging platforms such as Twitter increased 38 percent over the same period, according to the report, with 69 percent of those surveyed stating their district uses one.

Other key findings include:

  • Nearly all respondents, at 94 percent, reported that their district allows teachers to use Web 2.0 tools, up from 82 percent two years ago;
  • Logging a six-percent increase since last year's survey, 71 percent of those surveyed reported that their district had a "digital content strategy" featuring tools such as digital textbooks, Web 2.0 tools, educational games or simulations, video, or audio;
  • The biggest obstacle in preparing for upcoming Common Core online assessments, according to the survey, is a lack of computers, at 32 percent;
  • Twenty percent of respondents said they didn't know what the largest challenge for online assessments was, while 19 percent said they lacked technical support and expertise and 17 percent said their district doesn't have enough Internet access or bandwidth for the assessments;
  • Only nine percent of respondents reported having no bring-your-own-device (BYOD) program in their district, with 41 percent reporting a current implementation and 50 percent saying they were either planning or in the process of implementing one; and
  • Among deployed BYOD programs reported, 84 percent included grades 9-12, 72 percent included grades 6-8, 58 percent included grades 4-5, and 44 percent included grades preK-3.

CDE and NSBA have also named 30 districts "that most fully implement technology benchmarks in the evolution of digital education, as represented in the survey questions," according to a news release from the organizations.

Top-ten districts were chosen in three classifications: districts with more than 12,000 students; districts with between 3,000 and 12,000 students; and districts with fewer than 3,000 students.

Virginia's Roanoke County Public Schools, where teachers "are using dashboards to measure assessments, teaching with mobile-friendly digital curriculum and using e-textbooks," according to the release, took first place in the classification for large districts.

First place for districts with between 3,000 and 12,000 students went to Marietta City Schools in Georgia, where students are required to keep a "college and career-ready e-portfolio" and take online courses in order to graduate.

Geneseo Community Unit School District #228 in Illinois took first place among small districts for their use of Skype and iChat to allow off-site board members to attend meetings.

"It's really exciting to see the unique and creative ways districts are using technology," said Cathilea Robinett, executive vice president at CDE, in a prepared statement. "These outstanding innovations are moving us forward. We see these leaders as an inspiration to other school districts to continue leading education into a digital future. Congratulations to this year's winners!"

The remaining top-ten districts with 12,000 or more students, in order, are:

The remaining top-ten among mid-sized districts, in order, are:

The remaining top-ten smallest districts, in order, are:

"Through the leadership of local school boards, we continue to see that technology tools and practices are transforming America's public schools," said Thomas Gentzel, NSBA executive director, in a prepared statement. "The school districts honored in the 2013 Digital Districts Survey serve as national models for education technology innovations."

More information is available at centerdigitaled.com.

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