First-of-its-kind Technology Needs Assessment Finds Room for Improvement in San Diego Area Schools

SAN DIEGO CA – San Diego County schools lack the classroom technology to consistently prepare students for the future, according to a first-of-its-kind study released today by the University of San Diego’s Mobile Technology Learning Center (MTLC) in partnership with the San Diego County Office of Education.

The comprehensive study, which included 38 area school districts, evaluated student use of mobile learning devices such as iPads, Internet availability, and teacher training, among other areas.

“Our goal with this assessment is not to be critical, but to be helpful in identifying areas to improve upon and to engage education, business and civic leaders on solutions,” said Scott Himelstein, director of the MTLC, who was joined today by school superintendents from around the region. “What the results show is the need to provide students with greater access to mobile devices and the Internet, and expand teacher training and support to maximize the benefits of digital learning.”

“Technology is no longer a luxury – it’s a necessity for every student,” said Dr. Francisco Escobedo, Superintendent of the Chula Vista Elementary School District. “The use of technology in the classroom has the ability to equalize education among students from every walk of life, and is vitally important to ensuring they are ready for the 21st Century workplace.”

Among the key findings:

· Only 9% of high school students and 11% of middle school students have full-time access to a mobile device.

· Aging infrastructure and devices was reported as the greatest challenge among school districts (58%) followed by bandwidth (42%) and technology costs/lack of funding (24%).

· School districts also cited professional development (teacher training) as their greatest need (47%) followed by devices (26%), infrastructure (21%), technical support (18%) and bandwidth (16%)

The findings, according to Himelstein, clearly identify areas that require greater focus and attention.

Through the development of new technologies and applications, digital learning has grown in use across San Diego County and other areas of the nation. Education leaders have embraced the teaching method because of its effectiveness in fostering critical thinking and problem solving, and its ability to prepare students for the technology-driven New Economy.

By utilizing mobile devices and other tools, students are more eager to learn, and stay motivated for longer periods of time. They provide expanded access to resources, and allow for more communication with teachers, who are able to monitor student progress in real time. All of this leads to the potential for increased student learning.

Devin Vodicka, Superintendent of the Vista Unified School District, was one of several San Diego area education leaders invited by President Obama to take part in a White House forum on digital learning last November.

While there, Vodicka, along with 1,200 other superintendents, signed the Future Ready Digital Pledge, which encourages school districts to work with students, educators, families and community leaders on activities that promote education technology.

“Digital learning holds enormous promise,” said Vodicka. “Combined with our commitment to provide Future Ready schools, this needs assessment creates a sense of urgency for us to work collectively in San Diego County to ensure that every child has an equal opportunity to achieve.”

With the assessment complete and the needs identified, Himelstein says he will now work with the County Office of Education and community leaders with the goal of developing a regional strategy aimed at expanding access to mobile devices, increasing Internet availability, and broadening teacher training. He expects the strategy to be completed later this year.

“This is San Diego – one of America’s most innovative technology hubs,” said Himelstein. “There is no reason why we can’t be at the forefront of digital learning, setting the pace for the rest of the nation and the world to follow. By working together, there is no doubt in my mind that we can make this happen.”

The full report can be found here.

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About the Mobile Technology Learning Center at the University of San Diego
The Mobile Technology Learning Center (MTLC), established in 2011 by a grant
from Dr. Irwin and Joan Jacobs, is a university-based research center that fuels
innovation in K-12 education. Under the auspices of the School of Leadership
and Education Sciences at the University of San Diego, MTLC collaborates with
school districts to effectively integrate technology into today’s digital learning

About the University of San Diego

The University of San Diego sets the standard for an engaged, contemporary Catholic university where innovative Changemakers confront humanity’s urgent challenges. With more than 8,000 students from 75 countries and 44 states, USD is the youngest independent institution on the U.S. News & World Report list of top 100 universities in the United States. USD’s eight academic divisions include the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Business, the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering, the School of Law, the School of Leadership and Education Sciences, the Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science, the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, and the Division of Professional and Continuing Education. USD recently concluded our successful $317M Leading Change: The Campaign for USD, which represented the most ambitious fundraising effort in the history of the university. In September 2016, USD introduced Envisioning 2024, a strategic plan that capitalizes on the university’s recent progress and aligns new strategic goals with current strengths to help shape a vision for the future as the university looks ahead to its 75th anniversary in the year 2024.