Albemarle Schools to Stress Technology, Collaboration in the Cla - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Albemarle Schools to Stress Technology, Collaboration in the Classroom

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As students in Albemarle County prepare to bring the calendar year to a close, school leaders are looking to the future. They are currently testing a new way of teaching that could transform how students interact with teachers and one another.

Beginning in 2014, the school division really wants to get the ball rolling on its integrated curriculum, where technology becomes a key tool for how students are prepared in not only the classroom, but also the workplace.

"It allows kids to collaborate, as opposed to sitting at a worksheet," said Carrie Taylor, a teacher at Western Albemarle High School. 

Taylor's physics class represents the new frontier for learning in the county.

"My goal is to move from the traditional video where kids are stopping it and taking notes, but move it into a more interactive environment where I'm asking them questions. I can put quizzes in there to verify that they got the important information," said Taylor. 

Instead of completely relying on traditional lectures, students get a more engaging experience with a simple point and click - including customized video lectures to meet each student's needs in class or at home.

"When you blend in the virtual learning and the technology piece that goes with the blended curriculum it gives kids the opportunity to connect with the outside world," said Billy Haun, assistant superintendent for Albemarle County Public Schools. 

Within the next three to four years the county wants to integrate technology within curriculum across the division, but the emphasis isn't so much on just having technology available, but how it's used to help students collaborate.

"That's what a work environment looks like where engineers working, designing and working in teams. They are not sitting isolated at desks," said Haun. 

The new classroom concept comes during what's expected to be another cash-strapped budget year - costing $800,000 to fund. The school system will redirect money from its current budget to finance the project. The county says additional funding would be a great help, but it has no intention to put creative learning on hold without it. The goal is to keep moving students forward.

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