A recent grant from the Indiana Department of Education (DOE) will assist the Greencastle Community School Corporation as it moves toward a more digital curriculum.
GCSC is among the 20 recipients of 2012 Innovation Planning Grant by the DOE Office of eLearning.
"The intent of these grants is to incentivize thoughtful technology planning in small districts interested in creating or increasing the potential for eLearning in their classrooms," DOE Director of eLearning Candice Dodson said in the announcement to the schools.
GCSC Assistant Superintendent Dawn Puckett told the Banner Graphic the $30,000 grant will help the corporation map out how it plans to move toward a future with a more digital curriculum.
"It's a great opportunity for us in the next 90 days to gather all the information we can about where we are, what the options are moving forward and developing a plan to get from A to B," Puckett said.
"It's a huge step to go from a textbook to digital learning."
Grant money will go toward technology audits and instructional audits with outside evaluators to help the school determine its current technology capabilities and what improvements need to be made.
Networking will also be an essential part of the process and will happen through site visits to other schools and at the upcoming Hoosier Educational Computing Coordinators conference.
As part of the process, Greencastle will also appoint a director of integrated learning services, an individual who will help with instructional audits and help plan for how to build the curriculum to dovetail with digital learning.
As a planning grant, part of the focus will also be focused on finding further resources to move toward all that the plan entails.
One such opportunity is a classroom innovation grant recently announced by the Office of eLearning. Through the program, school districts may apply for up to $500,000 to help integrate digital learning into the classroom.
While participation in the second grant program is no guarantee, Puckett said the planning grant will help as the corporation applies for the classroom grant.
"I would say it is a stepping stone," Puckett said. "It certainly it gives us an advantage in the resources in planning for the next grant."
Puckett credited the district technology committee -- composed of teachers, administrators, community members and school board members -- for putting the corporation in a strong position to apply for the eLearning grant.
"It's been a very strong group for us. It's been in place for many years," Puckett said. "That group was integral in getting the grant and will continue to be a big part of the planning."
The grant requires the formation of a five-person leadership team focused on technology integration. Puckett said the new group, which was drawn from the technology committee, will not diminish the role of the established committee.
The leadership team will be the individuals attending technology conferences and visiting neighborhood districts.
They will then use information gained from this learning and the technology assessment to formulate a plan for the thoughtful integration of technology into teaching and learning.
Other nearby schools receiving the planning grant included Monroe-Gregg School District (Monrovia) and Moores-ville Consolidated School Corporation.