Once teachers get a taste of technology, most take the knowledge and run with it. Starting in 1992, the 18,000-student Sioux Falls School District in South Dakota issued each of its 1,500 teachers a laptop computer. "Teachers were initially leery of this technology, but now they're saying, 'How did we ever live without it?'" says fifth-grade teacher Cindy Nelson. "I find the technology indispensable for keeping grades, communicating, writing lesson plans, and creating assessments."
Teachers are also asking, "What's next?" The answer is a fiber and coaxial network that will provide a fast, wide-bandwidth connection between all thirty-seven buildings in the district. The network will allow students and staff to share resources, transfer files, communicate via e-mail, connect to the Internet, and more effectively administer the day-to-day operations of the District.
As teachers have become more comfortable with technology, they have sought out more information. A group of sixty-three Sioux Falls teachers joined together to pursue master's degrees in instructional technology at Augustana College. Rather than write formal theses, they conducted case studies using their own classrooms and students to investigate what works and what doesn't in educational technology.
Sioux Falls educators and Augustana College also collaborate on an annual summer institute called Tech Camp for educators and others. The camp features workshops and classes on integrating technology with learning. Summarizing the impact of educational technology on the district, Nelson says: "Technology helps create an environment where teachers and students are constantly learning."