Darlington School is a coeducational day and boarding school established in 1905 where students are empowered to learn with passion, act with integrity, and serve with respect. In 2011, Darlington began integrating technology learning throughout the curriculum, a move away from the traditional approach of teaching computer skills in isolation; this endeavor was initiated by teachers in recognition of the needs of a new generation of learners. Starting with initiatives such as mapping a new technology curriculum, prescribing new professional development, creating portfolios to collect student work, and providing a device to students and teachers, the program paved the way for many transformative initiatives.
Students now have an individual iPad or MacBook Air in grades 1-12. Better curriculum mapping was spread across all disciplines and instructional strategies increasingly incorporated project-based learning and design thinking. Digital learning resources replaced traditional textbooks. While giving all students a higher level of technology literacy, more specialized technology classes were created, such as Creative Technologies, Robotics, and Computer Science. Technology integration has now expanded to STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) and continues to be an important part of the curriculum. Students now confidently create projects, collaborate with others in and out of the school, and communicate effectively and responsibly across a variety of media. The ubiquity of technology is now a normal part of Darlington life, embraced by the community and respected by visitors.
Future strategic objectives for the school will continue the momentum created by this program and include redesigning learning spaces to accommodate more creative and collaborative learning, expanding student portfolios to better incorporate goal setting and demonstrate growth over time, and refining a skills-based curriculum that ensures a deep integration of the wide range of literacies our students will need in life.
During the 2016-17 school year, students in grades 1–5 were issued an iPad as part of our 1:1 program. Students in grades 6–12 were issued a MacBook Air. All students in grades Pre-K and Kindergarten use classrooms equipped with iMacs and have access to iPad carts. Students may also bring their own mobile device (such as a phone) to use in class for education purposes at the direction of a teacher.
Why does Darlington integrate technology into the classroom?
Because our world requires it.
Technology already permeates most aspects of a students' lives and the world they will graduate into will demand it more than we can even anticipate now. Darlington has a responsibility to develop students who are digitally capable, literate, discerning, and responsible. The best way to accomplish this goal is to recreate that technologically-infused environment in the classroom.
Here are some ways we do this at Darlington:
Teach Responsible Use and Digital Citizenship
Students must be taught how to use technology both safely and effectively. This is most powerful when it happens in the security of the classroom among students and a teacher. A off-post to a classroom blog can be discussed and understood more deeply and that lesson can be transferred to the online world where the School or parents cannot as easily help. Messages on responsible use are supplemented by specific programs delivered by technology integration specialists and school-wide presentations, often given by students.
Creation and Design
Discovery and Exploration
Present and Share Information
When students are asked to create their work for an authentic audience, whether this includes classmates, Darlington community members, other schools, or partners across the world, students learn their work is worth seeing and worth doing.
Calculus students produce music videos to teach calculus skills and geometry students create documentaries on prominent mathematicians. History students developed a web site to teach others about Cuba. Environmental Science students create sites to educate others about a variety of species in Georgia. Fourth graders developed blogs about the books they were reading to share with classmates, parents, and Upper School students.
Reinforce Core Literacies
In a technology-rich environment, core literacies become even more important. Writing, for example, is more important and practiced than ever as our students blog, comment, e-mail, and build Web sites to audiences that demand quality and perspecuity. Students must build on a strong foundation of reading and taking notes as they adapt these skills to digital mediums. Research skills are in greater demand as students navigate an immense volume of online information that demands discernment and vetting. These examples are true for skills across all disciplines.