School System Invests in Technology
With technology our mission is to support the advancement of life-long learning in a quality, technology-rich, secure environment where students and staff develop skills to be successful citizens in this 21st century global community. Our vision is to provide a seamless, efficient network of collaboration that enables each learner to be actively engaged in the learning process by providing technology tools and resources that maximize student achievement.
In keeping with that mission and vision, over the past three years we have invested funds in technology to provide the following: enhanced internal communications between our 16 campuses; interactive SMARTBoards and projectors in our classrooms; laptops for teachers; Fast ForWord computer-based reading improvement labs for student learning; computer-based testing resources such as Measure Academic Progress (MAP); increased bandwidth for video and Internet-based research; wireless Internet access in our media centers; teacher access to student folders on the network; and an integrated student information system for student records, grade books and records access for parents.
To support these investments we have placed technology support liaisons at each school and an instructional technology specialist provides district-wide instruction on how to infuse this technology into the classroom experience. The District hosted its first, annual Technology Day during its January in-service days. Nearly 200 teachers took part in workshops that showed them how to integrate these technologies, and many have come back to present to the Board of Education how it’s making a difference in their classrooms.
Students are surrounded by technology at home and in the world, and now the school system has given teachers the tools to better engage students in the learning process using technology. “I could teach without my SmartBoard, but I wouldn’t want to,” said Debbi Parrish, a teacher at Portal Elementary School, who along with a fellow teacher has created and linked more than 160 supporting videos, games, Web sites and worksheets on her SmartBoard that reinforce the academic standards for her grade level. She’s able to share those resources with all her fellow grade-level teachers across the system. “My students are up, active and learning.” “Each one loves the SmartBoard, and it’s made a difference in my classroom.”
Parrish is not alone. The technology is making paper-less classrooms as teachers pair their laptops, the SMARTBoard and other resources to store lesson plans, create teaching blogs, and access any number of video, audio and print resources to support their lessons. With remote-control-like devices provided to students, teachers can even give pop quizzes from the SMARTBoard that are instantaneously graded and placed in the teacher’s online grade book. Teachers are even filming their lessons and uploading them to YouTube for students who are absent or want to review.
This summer we will replace our existing telephone system with Voice over IP (VOIP) in order to reduce telephone costs and standardize our internal and external calling numbers. Ever keeping with our technology mission and vision, we are testing various technology options such as thin client computing, data virtualization, and video distribution.