• PDL FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions

    What is the Personalized Digital Learning Initiative?

    Over the past decade, technology has transformed the way we live and work.  During this time the Horry County Schools has been a state leader in using technology as a tool for teaching, including a teacher laptop initiative, classroom interactive whiteboards, a district virtual school, and extensive teacher training in using technology and technological tools.  Our students and teachers have embraced the use of technology in our schools, and their enthusiasm can be seen in our district technology fair, our competitive robotics programs, and a wide range of technology-based student projects and products.  Today’s students and teachers who are entering our classrooms are digital natives who use, understand, and value technological tools.  The personalized digital learning initiative takes the next step in moving our educational system forward by expanding the use of technology as a tool for learning.  Through this initiative supported by our Board, we have the opportunity to put technological tools into the hands of every student.

    How will classrooms be different?

    Over time classrooms will be interactive and dynamic, blending the best of teacher talents and technological tools. Our teachers will continue doing what they do best, working directly and closely with individual students and groups of students, while other students in the classroom will be learning using technology and digital content focused on their unique learning needs.  Students will also be working collaboratively, using technology to create products, to conduct research, to develop multimedia projects, and to communicate.

    How will this improve student learning?

    Online and adaptive digital content will allow teachers to personalize learning for every student in a way that has not been possible in our classrooms before, helping us to accelerate student learning and provide “just in time” support for students. 

    Why is HCS implementing 1:1 at my school?

    HCS believes that preparing students to compete with students around the world requires students to be digitally literate with strong critical-thinking and problem-solving skills.  The Personalized Digital Learning Initiative will allow student to develop these skills.

    What does the PDL Initiative mean for teachers?

    Teachers have to accommodate a wide range of student differences, including literacy and numeracy skills, learning styles, different rates of learning, and student interests.  Through the use of personal digital learning devices and the many technological tools and resources available, teachers will be able to design learning experiences using student interests and learning strengths.  Technology will allow teachers to engage our students and to ensure that every student is college and career ready.

    What is blended learning?

    Blended Learning is defined as a formal education program in which a student learns at least in part through online delivery of content and instruction with some element of student control over time, place, path or pace  (Innosight Institute).  It allows schools to leverage the use of digital content to provide students with skills and practice while allowing teachers to focus on depth and application of concepts to teach higher order thinking skills.  Review information at this link for detailed information.

    What does the PDL Initiative mean for students?

    Personal devices also allow students to take increased ownership of their own learning, and students at some grade levels will have access to dashboards that help them have “real time” information about what they have mastered and what they need to learn next. 

    Will technology make the classroom less personable?

    We are certain that the opposite will happen. Digital learning provides teachers with opportunities to develop learning plans to address individual student needs and interests.  Through technology, teachers have many new ways to communicate with students and their families and to engage students who might not have been engaged in traditional classrooms.  Technology removes barriers and helps us to accelerate student achievement by focusing on needs of individual students.

    So does this mean lighter backpacks?

    Lighter backpacks should be among the benefits as textbook publishers begin the transition to digital textbooks.

    What is the “device” we will use?

    As we involve school leaders, teachers, parents, and students in selecting appropriate devices, we are focusing first and foremost on student learning.  This involves thinking about the kinds of digital content and online resources students will use, the products student will produce, the projects and performances students will create, and the tools for collaboration students will use.  The device selected may be different at different grade levels, depending on what best meets student learning needs.  While every student will have a personal learning device, we may also use other devices in the classroom or in learning labs to meet specialized needs.

    How are we going to pay for this? Is this expensive?

    Technology is a capital investment, so we are able to use funds from our debt service to offset costs. This initiative is being supported within our existing funding with no additional cost to the taxpayers.  Already other districts in our state have begun 1:1 technology implementation for students, and school districts across the nation are seeing increased student engagement and accelerated student achievement through the implementation of personalized learning devices. 

    What are we doing to prepare?

    We have teams who are helping to research devices, examining digital content, determining infrastructure needs, and working with experts-in-the-field to examine national models.  District and school staff members have been working in step-by-step planning for training, support, and implementation in our schools.

    What type of training is provided?

    Our school leaders and teachers are being provided extensive training both in the selected device and in instructional models for using technological tools in the classroom. We will assess readiness at each of our schools and provide the support and training to ensure successful implementation.

    What do you want people who are watching to know and do?

    If you are a teacher, we hope you will embrace the initiative with enthusiasm.  We know that implementing new models to transform our classrooms is a process and takes time, and we encourage you to share what you are learning with your colleagues.

    If you are a student, we hope your devices will be in constant use. These new tools are a privilege, so we expect you to take care of them and exercise responsibility.

    If you are a parent, we hope you will be able to see your child’s excitement about learning and monitor your child’s academic growth in ways not available before.

    If you are a community member, know that we are taking this step carefully. We must be fiscally conservative, but we can’t be conservative to the point that our students don’t have what they need to be competitive and successful.

    It will be important for all of us to realize that the implementation is a process that we are undertaking thoughtfully and step-by-step.

    Who can we give credit for getting digital learning in the budget and in the works for this year?

    Our Horry County Board of Education has been supportive of our need to use 21st century tools and instructional models to ensure that all of our students are engaged and achieve at high levels.  As we begin this digital learning initiative, we know that we will have challenges as we implement 1:1 learning across a large and diverse school district.  However, as these new tools transform our classrooms, we look forward to celebrating the achievements of our students and our teachers.  Our educators and district administrators put the initiative on the table, but the urgency for this comes from our students.

    Will students take their devices home with them?

    Students in grades 9-12 who pay a $25 Technology Fee may take devices home.  Students in other grades will leave devices at school.

    Are students allowed to bring their own device to school rather than using a school-issued device?

    Students in a grade using PDL devices provided by the District, will be asked to use a school-issued device due to app licensing and the instructional materials that will be loaded on the devices for classroom learning. In the future, we will explore opportunities for student/family owned devices to be used, but for now we recommend that students use school-issued devices so we can manage the apps/licensing, settings and configurations within our network.  

    What should students do if their device is stolen?

    The student/parent/guardian must report the stolen device to school officials and file an official police report within 48 hours.  A copy of the police report must be provided to the school administrator.  The district has worked closely with local police departments to alert them to possible incidents.

    What are the typical fees for repair if a student chooses NOT to pay the Technology Fee?

    Like a textbook, responsibility for the loss or damage of a device is the responsibility of the student/parent.  If the parent/guardian has not paid the $25 Technology Fee, damages are estimated at:  Broken Screen - up to $150, Power adapter and cord $35, Case $25, Re-Synchronization due to violation of the Acceptable Use Policy $15, Broken/missing keys or destroyed keyboard $15 up to $115.  Replacement of the device could be $500 or more.

    How are students and staff being trained for this 1:1 roll-out?

    District and school staff members have been working in step-by-step planning for training, support, and implementation in our schools.  School leadership teams work together with district staff to build support for the transition.  Training for teachers is on-going and is part of each school’s professional development plan for staff.   Teachers receive ongoing school based training through the school’s curriculum coach.  District support is provided through digital integration specialists and learning specialists.

    Will students receive instruction in digital citizenship?

    Students will participate in digital citizenship lessons and activities.  Some of the topics include:   Care of Use of Technology, Cyberbulling, Online Safety & Security, Protecting Your Personal Information, The Digital Footprint, Choices & Behavior and Impact of Words & Actions. Families interested in more information about internet safety should visit www.commensensemedia.org.

    How are students protected from inappropriate content?

    Inappropriate websites will be blocked using the district's filtering application.  Students are expected to follow the Acceptable Use Policy and report any accidental inappropriate material to their teacher or administrator.

    Will apps be preloaded on the student devices for middle school students?

    When students receive devices, apps that support the district’s instructional goals and objectives will be available.  Schools also have the ability to push down additional content specific apps for student use in their classrooms.

    How will devices be selected?

    Each level (elementary, middle. high) will have an opportunity to provide input on a device for their level.  Focus groups made up of select members of various stakeholder groups (students, teachers, parents, administrators, etc.) will be invited to participate in device reviews.  Device selection is a short-term decision as technology is changing so rapidly. Our focus should be on instruction, not on the device. 

    How will the PDL 1:1 Initiative impact students with special needs?

    Students with special needs will benefit from having a personal device.  Based on their unique learning needs, devices may be equipped or modified to include adaptive accessories.  The district is working to ensure that all students with special needs are appropriately accommodated.

    Does the PDL 1:1 Initiative eliminate the need to bring textbooks home?

    Students will continue to have access to textbooks for classes.  However, over time the use of traditional textbooks may lesson, as most textbooks will be available digitally to students on their device.  Traditional print-based publishers are slowly providing more electronic resources for students.

    Do we have to have internet access at home?

    No.  Students will be able to complete homework assignments at home and turn in their work when they return to school the next day.  However, while not required, internet access at home will assist students in completing assignments, conducting research and collaborating with teachers and classmates outside of the classroom.

    What if a student forgets to bring their PDL device to school?

    Like a textbook, if students fail to bring their device to school, this could become a discipline issue.  Students who fail to bring their device are still responsible for completing all course work.

    Will my child’s internet traffic be filtered?

    Internet traffic on district owned PDL devices is logged and filtered through the district's internet filter. Filtering is an effective tool, but it is important to remember that no filtering system is foolproof.  Users are expected to abide by the district's acceptable use policies.

    As a parent, how can I best support my child at home with the device? 

    We strongly encourage you to work as a family to set ground rules for the care, maintenance, and usage of technology at home. Families should have set work routines that allow for completion of homework tasks separately from other non-school related use of the device. Given the safety and family concerns of some internet content, we strongly suggest that fammilies have on-going family discussions about appropriate Internet use.  Parent resources from Common Sense Media can be a big help.