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Baltimore County Now

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Keyword: technology

Tech-savvy Patapsco HS students Kevin Kamenetz
Baltimore County Executive

What will the schools of tomorrow look like?  I would guess that each student would use smartphones and tablets in class, with textbooks relegated to a study of ancient history. The entire school building would be wi-fi enabled, allowing students to access the Internet for problem solving and research at a moment's whim. Why, I think that students and teachers could interact via Twitter feeds, both inside the classroom and even at home!

Well, guess what?  The world of tomorrow land is here today - at the very special Patapsco High School Center for the Arts in Dundalk. Earlier this month I joined School Superintendent Dr. Dallas Dance for a tour of Patapsco where we met with the students and faculty for a jaw-dropping view of how technology can be used as an integral part of the learning process.

Principal Ryan Imbriale has created an amazing community of learners in eastern Baltimore County.  It is no wonder that Dr. Dance is eager to spread this magic system wide. What happens at Patapsco? Well, here is just a small sample of what took place the day I visited.
 
It is a school where the principal's daily update isn't done over a traditional public address system, but on the internet via a You Tube video that is also available to parents. It is a school where students are using a variety of social media to enhance learning. It is a school where students are encouraged to bring smart phones and tablets to school so that they may be used as part of the learning process. Classroom Twitter feeds are displayed on white boards encouraging students to react to classroom discussions immediately. In Spanish class, the Spanish tweets were being posted fast and furiously.  In science labs, students were using their phones to connect to links to QR codes posted around the room leading to problems that must be solved. Students worked in groups, actively engaging and supporting one another to solve these complex problems. Teachers worked hand-in-hand with students as guides in the learning process.
 
As my staff would tell you, I haven't been able to stop talking about the teachers and students at Patapsco. I am so excited about what is taking place there and even more excited that Dr. Dance firmly believes that this type of instruction can become the model for Baltimore County. I look forward to making that journey together.
 


This is an illustration of the Digital Counties Survey Winner 2012 logo.by Juliette Goodwin
Baltimore County Office of Information Technology

Some of the most creative times in my life have been the result of being broke. I had to learn how to exist on very little money. A dish that saw me through leaner years was rice and beans - inexpensive and simple to prepare. I dressed it up with extras when I could afford to, but even in its most basic state, rice and beans sustained me for long periods of time.

Baltimore County recently won a spot in the top ten Digital Counties Survey by responding to a similar problem: How does local government improve the way it does business with fewer resources than in the past? The Center for Digital Government, in partnership with the National Association of Counties (NACo) conducted the survey. A panel of expert judges reviewed responses - the top ten winners demonstrated successful use of technological solutions to county priorities on a limited budget.

The year and a half I've worked for the County, the move to streamline has been swift. Instead of customers traveling to County offices to do business, services like paying Property Taxes or reporting potholes can now be taken care of online.

Financial necessity is responsible for much of this change, as is a keen interest by County Executive Kamenetz in the County's web presence. The outcome has resulted in processes becoming easier and more accessible to the public, and less of a burden on taxpayers.


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