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 JCCS Students Thrive with Increased Access to Technology

​The effort to integrate more technology into the classroom for Juvenile Court and Community Schools (JCCS) students with a laptop for each student continues to move forward and prepare even more students for college and careers.

The technology rollout started about two years ago when teachers received professional development focused on integrating blended-learning opportunities for all students in San Diego County Office of Education’s JCCS program. The teachers who completed the rigorous eight- to 10-week Leading Edge Certification training received computers for each student in their class.

So far, about 65 percent of JCCS teachers have received the nationally recognized certification and about 1,400 laptops have been distributed. The goal is for all of the students in the court and community schools to have them by June.

“It’s important that all JCCS students have these opportunities, including those in our locked facilities as these skills can make the difference for their success,” said Dr. Dennis Danielson, a technology coordinator working with JCCS.

A key part of this process was supporting teachers to adopt new teaching and learning models and to plan for the purposeful integration of technology to their lessons. It’s not simply a matter of teaching class the same way but using computers instead of paper and pencil work.

“The process is working to transform learning in the classroom from lower-level recall activities to more collaborative and creative projects,” Danielson said. “We’re seeing much greater student engagement and higher-level outcomes as the teachers are working collaboratively in professional learning communities. They are challenging students to think and work differently.”

JCCS students have already created thousands of electronic documents and presentations with the help of the increased access to online tools such as Google Apps for Education and the Haiku Learning Management System. This work includes internet-researched publications, team projects, animation, and videos that align Common Core State Standards.

Students have said that using the computers and online resources has helped make things more fun, efficient, and challenging.

"The work is harder, which is good for us,” said a student at North County Technology and Science Academy. “When we have to work harder our brains grow stronger."

Much of the success of the effort is the result of it being led by teachers and centered on students, said Jose Villarreal, senior director with JCCS.

Personnel from throughout the County Office of Education have helped with the planning and preparation of the effort, including Integrated Technology Services, Maintenance and Operations, and JCCS.

The process started by looking at what the teachers’ and students’ needs were and finding a device that would best serve them. Chromebooks were selected based on those needs.

Having access to the computers will help students in many ways. Not only will they learn important technology skills and have access to far more information than they have in the past, but the computers will also help boost students’ self-esteem and sense of responsibility.

“It’s a very positive thing for students,” Danielson said. “They see meaning and value in what they’re doing.”