Technology Trailblazers Lead the Way

Technology Trailblazers Lead the Way in Transition to Distance Learning
Posted on 08/11/2020
Laptop on desk

In May 2017, the School District of Palm Beach County launched the Technology Trailblazers program, which now boasts more than 2,400 District teachers identified as Tech Trailblazers.

The Trailblazers program allows educators in elementary and secondary schools to undergo extensive training to bring their skills to the classroom and train other teachers on how to integrate technology into their respective classrooms. As a result of the commitment to technology integration, the District has more Google Certified Educators than any school district in the world.

The focus on technology proved to be beneficial when the coronavirus pandemic hit South Florida in spring 2020. The ensuing crisis thrust the School District into Distance Learning, a structure that will continue when the 2020-2021 school year begins on August 31.

"Our Tech Trailblazers were an integral part of the switch to distance learning. Due to the investment our District made in training and technology, every school had Trailblazers who had the skills and experience to support all of their peers," said Adam Miller, the Director of Educational Technology. "We heard so many great stories about Trailblazer teachers leading training sessions, providing advice, and being an integral part in making the best out of a tough situation."

Teachers throughout the District demonstrated their eagerness to improve their skills for the transition to Distance Learning, signing up for 267 different professional development training courses offered by the District. Course enrollment surpassed 41,000 representing unique and repeat enrollees.

Tech Trailblazers were at the forefront of guiding and helping their colleagues make the switch to Distance Learning.

“I was already aware of blending instructional practices, and I was able to use this knowledge to support members of my campus who needed assistance transitioning to an online teaching environment,” said Stephanie Hunte, a teacher at Carver Middle School who was in the inaugural cohort of the Trailblazer program.

In addition to the work of the Tech Trailblazers, the District put forth a goal to achieve a 1:1 student to computer ratio by the first day of school. Back in March, the District distributed more than 60,000 computers to students when the mode of instruction first shifted from in-person to remote lessons. The District has ordered an additional 82,000 laptops, and has more than 30,000 for distribution currently located at school sites.

Along with the District-wide device distribution efforts, teachers rose to the challenge and transitioned their classrooms online. Over the coming weeks, we will be hosting “Trailblazer Tuesdays” on the District’s social media pages.

Each week, we will spotlight a specific educator who has used an innovative tool to make Distance Learning fun and effective for students. Check it out on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram using the hashtag #TrailblazerTuesdays.

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