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 Riverside County Officials Learn from SDCOE Technology Efforts

Representatives from the Riverside County Office of Education and Probation Department visited the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) Jan. 27 to learn more about integrating technology into the classroom.

The visitors from Riverside County were interested in SDCOE’s ongoing efforts to incorporate technology into lessons in its Juvenile Court and Community Schools (JCCS).

“We wanted to see how it would work for us,” said Ebon Brown, an adult-education principal at the Riverside County Office of Education who helped organize the trip.

The juvenile detention facilities in Riverside County have computers but no wireless devices. They’re hoping to add wireless access next year.

The visit included discussions with some of the SDCOE leaders who helped facilitate and oversee the technology rollout as well as a visit to classrooms in Girls Rehabilitation Facility and Sarah Anthony School, which are partnerships between SDCOE and the San Diego County Probation Department.

The visiting officials said they gained some insight and strategies that they were going to be able to take back with them as they work to incorporate more technology in the classroom.

“This is the first time I’ve seen something like this in real life,” said Christina Martinez, director of Riverside County’s Southwest Detention Facility.

They also said they were impressed with how engaged the students were during their tour of the two facilities.

“When you walk into a typical high school environment, you hardly ever see the kind of engagement that these incarcerated juveniles were showing,” Brown said.

SDCOE’s technology rollout started about two years ago when teachers received professional development focused on blended learning. The teachers who completed the training received computers for each student in their class.

JCCS students have already created thousands of electronic documents and presentations with the help of the increased access to online tools. This work includes internet-researched publications, team projects, animation, and videos that align Common Core State Standards.

“We are providing students with an educational experience that mirrors what they get in the free world,” said Joanne Finney, a JCCS principal.

Students have said that using the computers and online resources has helped make things more fun, efficient, and challenging. It also better prepares them for college and careers.

“In order to compete in the 21st Century, we’ve got to give our kids access to technology,” Brown said.