Technology in DYS
To improve access for DYS youth to postsecondary and credentialing opportunities and required standardized testing (e.g. online MCAS testing), DYS has invested in technology and technology infrastructure in all residential programs. This has included a layered approach to technology access and learning tools that is tailored to the individual needs of youth and addresses the safety and security considerations that our agency must manage.
CES has extended availability and training of G-Suites for Education and Google Classroom to all programs, including Revocation and Detention.
Remote Teaching and Learning
As a result of prior work completed in the implementation of G-Suites for Education and Google Classroom, and the following changes, DYS was able to transition seamlessly to remote teaching and learning when necessary.
NetRef Classroom Management and Monitoring Software is in place, allowing monitoring and student Internet access to be managed both in-program and remotely. This allows educators to assess student time spent on-task through advanced realtime reporting at the student and program level. All education staff have been trained to use this software.
EndlessOS Laptops for Residential Use
Non-wireless connected specialized laptops (Endless OS) are deployed in secure residential programs to expand access to learning with technology during residential non-classroom hours. In SY 2019-2020 alone, 80 English-language and 32 Spanish-language devices were deployed. As a result, youth were able to continue learning and explore their interests independently. The majority of our youth who are English Language Learners speak Spanish, so it was important to give them a device that allowed them to continue learning in their own language.
Teachers have the task of meeting the kids where they are. To support true personalization, we build a body of technology resources that support both the vocational and academic curriculum. The student engagement level is unbelievable, because each kid literally has their own personalized resources that speak to them where they are at.
— Laura Finn-Heafy, Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment
When you’re on the computer, you’re really focused on the work, not getting distracted. The courses for my college classes are all online, so I can catch up on past lessons that I missed. I can reach out to professors, the teacher helping me here, and different content that I can explore in the courses that I might take.
— DYS Student
Our blended learning work increases youth familiarity and comfort with technology so that DYS youth are equipped to pursue their respective passions. Creativity, collaboration, problem-solving, a growth mindset that includes learning from failure, and engaging in an iterative design process.
— Woody Clift, Director, DYS Education Initiative
One-to-One Chrome Books
As one-to-one Chromebooks have rolled out at some of the DYS sites, students have also come to appreciate their ability to carry their work from class to class, and even outside of class. Their work goes faster using HyperDocs, and they can consume not only written content, but content in video or audio form, because each student has earphones. One student used a YouTube video to help him understand circumference for his lesson.
Instructional and Technology Coaches
DYS teachers agree that as new programs and tools are added and tested in their classrooms, the continual expansion to new technology tools for teaching would not be possible without the foundational support of their instructional and technology coaches. Finding the time to experiment with new technologies can be challenging. “As a coach, we try to give a lot of supports around the technology to help teachers plan, so that they can be doing different things with different students at the same time. It’s great to learn more about the tools that we can offer our teachers.” — Erin White, Instructional Coach
An important partner for the DYS Education Initiative is Break-Free Education, a national organization that partners directly with juvenile justice agencies to provide educational programs.The work with Break-Free, then CEEAS, began with four original CES educators working in DYS that participated in 2014 and thereafter as fellows in the CEEAS Unjammed Blended Learning Initiative; piloting new ways to bring the power of blended learning to their students across the Commonwealth. Fellows used their training at Unjammed to pilot web-based technology and learning within their DYS classrooms. The partnership has led to a range of creative learning experiences where youth use technology to demonstrate their learning. Now DYS instructors use components of the monthly BreakFree Education initiatives with their students throughout the school year.