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Digitally Transforming Public Schools

At Shenandoah Middle School in Miami, one art classroom can easily pass for a science lab. Here, teacher Lourdes Fuller has her students analyze plants and insects that they’ve captured on digital devices so they can transform them into works of art. Fuller believes testing a creative idea is just like testing a scientific hypothesis—and, with the help of technology, her students are building key STEM skills that will help them succeed in an increasingly digital world. Digitally Transforming Public Schools.

Fuller is just one of many teachers across the U.S. who is taking advantage of digital technology to transform the learning process as part of the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools program. This program provides devices, internet connectivity, professional development, and coaching to schools with high concentrations of students who come from low-income backgrounds—and it will reach 592 underserved schools nationwide during the 2023–2024 school year.

Verizon Innovative Learning Schools

Verizon Innovative Learning Schools is made possible through Verizon’s 10-year partnership with nonprofit Digital Promise. According to D’Andre Weaver, Ph.D., chief digital equity officer at Digital Promise, the program is helping the organization fulfill its mission of advancing digital equity for all learners in today’s education system.

“Public education is in need of a digital transformation,” Weaver says. “Verizon Innovative Learning Schools is helping schools start to move along that transformation journey and provide teachers with new perspectives to create more powerful digital learning experiences for students.”

The impact of Verizon Innovative Learning Schools on students and teachers is already far-reaching. In a 2023 Westat survey of teachers involved in the program, 77% say the program has improved student engagement, 78% say it has enhanced the ability to differentiate instruction, and 82% say it has helped explore new ways of teaching.

Virtual Reality Headsets

For example, beyond Fuller’s art-classroom-turned-science-lab, Austin Middle School’s language arts teacher Katie Ward uses virtual reality headsets supplied by the program to allow students to go on learning journeys that support their understanding of the literature they have been reading. Austin Middle School is one of 13 schools in Irving Independent School District (ISD) outside of Dallas that Verizon Innovative Learning Schools serves. According to Weaver, Irving ISD and Compton Unified School District in Los Angeles County are concrete examples of how the program is transforming entire school districts.

“Irving ISD now has district-wide digital learning coaches and personnel,” Weaver says. “And Compton Unified has taken concepts that Verizon Innovative Learning Schools has brought and has made sure that every school has the technology and curriculum needed for digital teaching and learning to happen. Both districts have completely transformed their curriculums to integrate technology, thanks to Verizon Innovative Learning Schools.”

Furthermore, other, much larger school districts, such as Houston ISD and Los Angeles Unified School District, take the systems and processes they’ve learned from the schools that are a part of the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools program and scale them across the entire district to digitally transform nonparticipating schools as well.

Understand Complex Math Concepts

As Verizon Innovative Learning Schools continues to grow, Weaver has been visiting participating schools across the country. He recently met with a technology coach in Miami who guides teachers in using digital music tools to help students learn and understand complex math concepts. And he left the presentation feeling the true value and impact of the program.

“I witnessed an educator create moments for other teachers in which they could think about how to better engage students through digital technology,” Weaver says. “It was meaningful, it was authentic, and it was real. To know this same impact is happening in schools across the country is a beautiful thing.”

Source: Digitally Transforming Public Schools

Digital Promise and Verizon are harnessing the power of technology to reenvision learning and set students and teachers up for success across the U.S

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