DARLINGTON, S.C. – Two Darlington County School District (DCSD) staff members are embracing the district’s Digital Transformation initiative and investing effort to promote the use of technology in classrooms.
Carla Jefferson, the district’s instructional technology coordinator, and Rhett Hughes, a social studies teacher and technology coordinator at Darlington High School, recently launched a podcast focused on integrating technology and education. Jefferson and Hughes stamp the weekly “#DCSDTransforms” podcast as the “best 10-minute edtech conversation you’ll hear all week.”
“Honestly I think it benefits all teachers,” Jefferson said. “With the district’s Digital Transformation, we want to make sure that we’re able to highlight and document the transition. We want to spark and encourage enthusiasm in our teachers. We want them to use technology effectively and appropriately, and that can take a lot of support.”
The self-proclaimed “techie geeks” huddle around two Macbooks and a portable microphone each Tuesday and produce the podcast on Apple’s GarageBand. Five episodes are already available for streaming through iTunes and www.techrhett.com.
Topics discussed include exciting mobile applications, upcoming and past technology-related events in the district and spotlighting teachers who are already using technology in their lessons.
“A huge component of this content is based on the idea that teachers are swamped,” Hughes said. “They don’t always have time to research whether or not a tool is good for them. One of our goals is to give you a quick soundbite of a really cool tool and what other people are doing. The hope is that this is one more avenue for educators to use.”
The friendly discussions are kept brief, so teachers can listen during a morning commute or lunch period. The podcasts only launched a few weeks ago, and Hughes and Jefferson continue to develop plans for new additions. The two began including outtakes recently. And in the Nov. 24 edition, they hosted the podcast’s first guest, Suzanne Goodwin, who is a fourth grade teacher at Brockington Elementary. Jefferson and Hughes said Goodwin has worked diligently to incorporate technology in her classroom.
In the time since its launch, teachers and even professionals outside of the classroom are catching on to the podcast’s usefulness. Listeners have approached both Jefferson and Hughes on various occasions about what they learned from tuning in.
Another core element of the project is fostering familiarity with technology that can be used to improve academic environments. In the midst of an already time-burying schedule, teachers may find navigating the technology channel to be tough.
“Some teachers may say, ‘Where do I even start? I don’t know what I’m looking for let alone how to look for it,’” Hughes said.
That’s where “#DCSDTransforms” aims to help, and support from the top is making it possible.
The Darlington County Board of Education put its support behind a plan to place digital devices in the hands of every district student during the coming years. The Digital Transformation, as the plan is called, has already reached a 3-to-1 status. That is, schools have one laptop or tablet for every three students. Over time, the plan will move to 2-to-1 and, ultimately, 1-to-1.
“I know when I talk with teachers and people I know, we talk about what our district is doing,” Jefferson said. “This isn’t the first podcast and our district won’t be the first to go 1-to-1, but this is another step toward improving. Some other prominent districts are doing the same things, and our board is committed to our district excelling.”
To hear the “#DCSDTransforms” podcast, simply perform a search in the iTunes Store via any compatible device, or visit www.techrhett.com.
The Darlington County School District serves more than 10,400 students in 23 schools throughout the county.