Opelika Schools Embrace Technology

Opelika City Schools are making big investments in technology for K-12 students. This year, all Opelika City Schools students in grades 3-12 receive in classroom Google Chromebooks. Exposing students to technology at a young age sets the stage for expanding education opportunities beyond the classroom and preparing students for college and real world experience with a deeper understanding of how to use technology.

Just four years ago, Opelika launched the program with one Google Expedition Kit at a cost of $10,000. Since then, the district has purchased a total of 12 kits to be used system wide. This year 4,356 Google Chromebooks will be distributed to students and, so far, about 60 teachers are Google Certified Teachers in the district. The State of Alabama provides very little funds for technology to local school systems and Opelika has risen to the challenge by making up the shortfall and providing nearly all of the funds used for this program. The City of Opelika embraces technology. With being the first “Gig City” in Alabama and their investment in education, Opelika is investing heavily in the economy of the future and setting their students up to succeed.

Morris Avenue 5th Grade Teacher, Jillian Eshelman, leads a virtual reality lesson

In addition to providing the computers to students, Opelika City School classrooms participate in programs seamlessly embedded into the curriculum. Chief Technology Officer of OCS, Stacy Royster, explains how virtual reality has expanded the classroom. “During classroom instruction on a topic like erosion, students can learn about how erosion works in a textbook and then visit a small stream to see how erosion impacts a small stream. But, they can return to the classroom and through virtual reality they can experience a flying tour of the Grand Canyon to see how erosion impacts the landscape over time.”  These experiences give students a deeper educational opportunity.  Opelika City Schools was the first school system in the area to provide virtual reality headsets in the classroom.

While many area school districts provide technology to students, Opelika City Schools have embraced Google products because of their wide acceptance globally, their flexibility and wide range of programs for the classroom, Royster explained.  Royster was an invited speaker in Chicago at the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) and has visited other school districts to showcase how Opelika is utilizing the Google Expedition kits to be a seamless part of the curriculum in Opelika City Schools. Opelika remains the leader and the first school system in the county to use Google Expedition kits in the classroom.

The City of Opelika is focused on sending students into the world with real working knowledge of technology and embracing the future of learning. The citizens of Opelika have much to be proud of when it comes to the local public school system and with the full support of the community, these programs thrive and prepare Opelika’s children for the future.



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