Virginia Beach schools ranks in top 10 national digital learning centers

Southsidedaily.com is your source for free local news and information in Virginia Beach

Tallwood elementary students using HP Chromebooks in the classroom
Tallwood elementary students using HP Chromebooks in the classroom. (Photo courtesy of Virginia Beach City Public Schools)

VIRGINIA BEACH — Technology in Virginia Beach classrooms is booming and the school district is garnering national recognition for it.

The Center for Digital Education recognized Virginia Beach City Public Schools as a top 10 school district for its educational initiatives in a recent digital school districts survey.

“Teaching, learning and technology are inextricably linked in education, and we are committed to leveraging technology to personalize and create flexible learning opportunities for today’s digital learners,” VBCPS Superintendent Aaron Spence said in the press release.

According to a VBCPS news release, its citywide STEM trifecta that cover subjects in robotics, 3D printers and cyber security courses, as well as its digital learning anchor school initiative is what led to the recognition.

Tallwood Elementary School is one of Virginia Beach's digital anchor schools.
Tallwood Elementary School is one of Virginia Beach’s digital anchor schools. (Photo courtesy of Virginia Beach City Public Schools)

The citywide STEM trifecta gives elementary, middle and high school students a chance to create robots that accomplish tasks, pitch 3D print designs and write code for cyber security.

“The whole point behind this is to really create opportunities for students, so that when they leave us, they’ve experienced, or at least had their hand in, a variety of fields that may help prepare them to go into the job market or higher education,” school division chief academic officer, Dr. Amy Cashwell said in an interview.

Students will be able to flex their robotics, coding and 3D design skills June 8 at the Virginia Beach Convention Center.

“Every school just about has a team in one or more of those areas,” Cashwell said. “We have industry leaders come who help judge. The military is heavily involved and a lot of STEM companies are big supporters of this.”

A Tallwood Elementary School student uses a tablet in the classroom.
A Tallwood Elementary School student uses a tablet in the classroom. (Photo courtesy of Virginia Beach City Public Schools)

The schools’ digital learning anchor school initiative launched two years ago to give students a one-on-one learning experience with tablets and laptops they could use in class and take home, but Cashwell said it goes beyond the devices

“We wanted to transform the experience for students interacting with digital content, not only to learn, but to create products to show mastery of their learning and interact with the teacher in a way they hadn’t before,” Cashwell said.

This is a pilot initiative to learn how different technology, like Windows, Apple and HP products, impacts school work, so the school is informed when making division-wide device purchases moving forward.

Cashwell said the initiative showed that HP Chromebooks are the big winner in its anchor schools.

“Chromebooks have been the big winner largely because when we compare what it can do with what some of the other tools can do, there’s not a whole lot of difference,” Cashwell said. “The price point is incredibly lower.”

VBCPS will host a digital learning anchor school showcase at Floyd E. Kellam High School on Wednesday April 19.

“Students, teachers and leaders from each of our anchor schools will be showcasing the work they’ve done to transform any number of facets of the experience,” Cashwell said.

Follow Justin on Twitter @Justinbmmj or send him a story idea at Justin@SouthsideDaily.com