Mooresville, North Carolina Shows How to Implement Digital Learning in a School District
Many important social movements have started with large crowds packed into school gymnasiums. Yesterday I witnessed another movement coming to life in the Mooresville Intermediate School gym in Mooresville, NC.
A group from Missouri drove twelve hours in two vans. Almost fifty came from Alabama. A large contingent showed up from Illinois. And when we did the opening exercises introducing ourselves to the person next to us, I found ten who had driven from Mingo County, WV. In all, approximately 400 people from 16 states and the District of Columbia found their way for this major summer meeting in central North Carolina.
What major effort of the 21st century do they represent? This gathering attracted hundreds of educators, many traveling at their own expense, to learn how to implement digital learning in their school districts. Teachers, principals, technology specialists, administrators, district superintendents --- all united in sharing with each other while also observing firsthand the demonstrable student outcome successes resulting from a comprehensive digital learning strategy in the Mooresville Graded School District. (You can see the activity that the convening generated on Twitter at @MGSDschools or by searching the hashtag #Connection12. You can also follow the blog athttp://summerconnection12.blogspot.com/).
Mooresville Graded School District Superintendent (and President of the Horace Mann League), Dr. Mark Edwards presides over this now annual summer gathering as well as the monthly visits to Mooresville by groups of 50 educators. I joke with Dr. Edwards that his district's success has created a local industry in educational tourism. (To watch Mooresville students in action, watch the profile the Alliance created on the school district for Digital Learning Day by clicking on the video below or going tohttp://youtu.be/EKYW6fD9DfE).
Mark Edwards has become a national figure for his success leading Mooresville through what he terms a "digital conversion" to become one of the state's highest-performing districts. What is taking place several days this week in the Mooresville gym and classrooms shows that digital learning's time is truly coming.
These are excited educators who come to learn how to bring the Mooresville experience to their districts, schools, and classrooms. They listened attentively as four Mooresville teachers and a principal share their experiences at implementing a one laptop per student program as well as many other pieces of the comprehensive digital strategy. Mooresville students from elementary school to high school graduates spoke about the excitement of learning. Each referenced, both directly and indirectly, developing today's necessary competencies in creative and critical thinking, collaboration with classmates, communicating their work and self- reflection. Whether called deeper learning, next generation learning, or 21st century skills, the competencies being developed by these students were being significantly enabled by effective applications of digital technology.
An Alabama superintendent related major student outcomes in his Gulf Coast district. He beamed describing one student observing that digital technology meant “Now I don't have to wait to learn."
More and more Mooresvilles are springing up around the nation. Many thanks to Dr. Mark Edwards and a committed team for doing their part to take digital learning viral.