Learning Upgrade: Technology in Iowa Schools

Dec 12, 2017  | 30 min  | 1

Technology has rapidly changed how we work, communicate and organize our lives. In many ways we are more connected, informed, productive and entertained than ever before. But how is technology transforming teaching and learning in Iowa’s classrooms?

This informational video features stories from four Iowa school districts about how they have leveraged technology to accelerate change in their classrooms. District superintendents, school principals, classroom teachers, education researchers and Iowa educational leaders share their perspective on this transformation and what schools need to do to find success. The video’s five segments—focused on learning, teaching, leadership, assessment and infrastructure—spotlight promising practices and research-based strategies supported by recommendations of the U.S. Department of Education’s National Education Technology Plan and the Iowa Digital Learning Plan.

Learning: Engaging and Empowering Learning Through Technology

This segment introduces ways that technology provides new opportunities for students, and how it has driven the expectations of what students need to be successful in the 21st century. Teachers at College Community School District in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, explain how they use technology-based tools and learning extensions to support all students. Administrators and staff at Council Bluffs Community School District demonstrate technology to foster personalized learning experiences for students on the autism spectrum. Specifically, the district is using a robot with facial features to help these students develop critical social skills.

Teaching: Teaching With Technology

This segment introduces how technology has changed the practices and skills teachers use, and how classrooms are configured and managed. Teachers and administrators at Cardinal Community School District in Eldon, Iowa, share their local initiative to redesign classrooms, rethinking how to organize physical spaces to facilitate collaborative learning using digital tools. Educators from other Iowa districts share details on how teachers use technology effectively, and how they model appropriate use with their students.

Leadership: Creating a Culture and Conditions for Innovation and Change

This segment features administration and staff at Howard-Winneshiek Community School District in Cresco, Iowa, and spotlights how they exemplify important leadership characteristics to take full advantage of technology to transform learning. Practices include collaborative leadership, distributed leadership, leading by example, and creating a culture in which experimentation and innovation are not just tolerated but encouraged. 

Assessment: Measuring for Learning

This segment explores how technology is used to provide realtime feedback to students, and how teachers in College Community School District in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, use this formative assessment data to personalize the learning experience for students. Administration and staff from Cardinal Community Schools in Eldon, Iowa, share how their district team uses specialized software to integrate data from various education technology systems and analyze results against research-based frameworks, providing actionable information that drives decisions about learning.

Infrastructure: Enabling Access and Effective Use

Administration and staff at two Iowa school districts share how they support robust and flexible technology infrastructure to support transformational learning experiences, including Internet connectivity within the school and throughout the community; providing powerful learning devices for all students; planning and budgeting; using open education materials to replace expensive textbooks; and developing effective district policies for technology use.


These informational videos were produced by Iowa PBS for Regional Education Laboratory (REL) Midwest.

REL Midwest is part of a network of 10 regional educational laboratories funded by the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences. REL Midwest serves a seven state region of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.

This material was prepared under Contract ED-IES-17-C-0007 by REL Midwest, administered by American Institutes for Research. The content of the program does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Institute of Education Sciences or the U.S. Department of Education, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. government.