Rock Hill students can often be seen walking the halls with a computer or iPad in hand.
It’s a sight that reflects the district’s commitment to bringing technology to the classroom and supporting a digital approach to educating students, said Mychal Frost, spokesman for the Rock Hill school district.
The classroom can’t be defined by the four walls that surround students, but instead includes facilities, security systems, energy management and tools that support education, Frost said.
“It’s how these other systems support our core purpose, and that’s teaching,” he said.
It’s how these other systems support our core purpose, and that’s teaching.
Mychal Frost, Rock Hill schools
The district recently ranked sixth in the country in the annual Digital Schools District Survey, presented by the Center for Digital Education, a national research and advisory institute, a release states.
The survey recognizes school districts and school boards that use technology to “enhance the classroom experience and communication with stakeholders,” the release states. “Rock Hill Schools continues to invest in tools and professional development to better prepare its nearly 18,000 students for future generations.”
Any U.S. public school district can submit the survey responses, which are validated by the Center for Digital Education and used to determine the rankings, Frost said.
Questions focus on how the district shares information on public meetings, online transparency, the district’s use of social media, the ability of the public to electronically interact with school leaders and school security.
Districts are split into three categories: 3,000 or fewer students, 3,000-12,000 students and 12,000 or more students.
Rock Hill, which falls into the last category, is the only district in South Carolina to earn the recognition, the release states. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools ranked 10th.
“Technology is an essential tool for the transformation of education in our country,” said Kecia Ray, executive director for the Center for Digital Education. “The Digital School Districts Survey helps districts measure progress toward transformation and I’m proud to recognize these districts and the work that is represented in their award.”
The national award recognizes how the Rock Hill school district supports education through technology, including engagement through social media, safe campuses, technology in the classroom and digital tools for students, Frost said.
Rock Hill provides devices to students and ensures the network can handle the demand of those devices, Frost said.
“In today’s world, we get accustomed to walking into a facility, being able to hop on the free Wi-Fi, do what we need to do and leave,” he said. “If that’s the expectation of our students when they are not at school, how can we provide a comparable experience ... while monitoring activity. It’s a balance.”
Frost said digital textbooks allow students to interact with their classroom material.
“The tool of the 21st-century classroom is some type of personal computing device,” he said. “The tool is the conduit to provide instruction. Students are expected to have fun at school and excel ... the more we are able to provide an interactive learning experience on a device they want to have and want to use, the better.”
The tool of the 21st-century classroom is some type of personal computing device. The tool is the conduit to provide instruction.
Mychal Frost, Rock Hill schools
The use of educational games is also a way the district has tackled the technology-driven classroom, Frost said.
“Students are learning and they don’t realize they’re learning,” he said.
Beyond the direct education of students, technology plays a part in keeping campuses safe, Frost said.
The district’s security systems, card-access doors and remote-controlled energy management systems ensure campuses are able to support student learning, he said. The district’s mobile app puts information important to students and parents in one place.
“Rock Hill for a number of years has been proactive in its utilization of technology,” Frost said.
The award, Frost said, is a reflection of that effort.
“It’s a comprehensive award of basically everything we do,” he said. “It’s a pretty big deal.”