Technology Update

The school district plans to ensure all students have access to technology in the classroom, but the bigger issue of upgrading the expensive infrastructure is on hold until substantial funding can be found.

"Making sure that we have a level playing field for all students is important to us," Chris Hobbs, the district's technology services director, said. "We want to see technology embedded regularly (in the classroom). We went to a point to where we consider technology as common as the white board."

Hobbs spoke to parents and community members at the PTO meeting April 23. The goal, he said, is to have at least one technological device for every three students in each classroom.

"We need to make sure there's an adequate mix of devices on our campuses," Hobbs said, adding that teachers favor everything from Chromebooks to full-blown desktop computers.

An essential part of integrating technology in the classroom is training teachers, Hobbs noted. Teachers have three mandatory training sessions per year to keep them updated on the latest technology.

"The key to all of this is making sure that our teachers have the professional development they need to be successful," he said.

PTO members discussed using PTO funds to pay for additional teacher training or workshops. The PTO currently funds $40,000 a year to upgrade technology on campus.

The district's three-year technology plan calls for $23 million in technology infrastructure upgrades, Hobbs said. Only $8 million in funding has been secured, so more work needs to be done to find additional funding.

"All of our sites suffer," he said, noting the high schools can easily have 2,000 devices at a time tapped into the Internet. "Our networks aren't what they need to be."

Teachers Gary Johnson and Stephanie Maimoni-Asturias shared hands-on presentations to explain how students use mobile devices in class to expand their studies. Johnson has even used the popular online game Flappy Bird to teach math.

Parents at the meeting used their mobile phones to experiment with a sonar application and to figure out the radius of a circle.

"You see how engaged you were," Principal Jason Krolikowski told parents after the demonstrations. "It's a model lesson in how we can engage our students."

Click here to view the school district's proposed three-year technology plan. Minor changes may be made before the school board votes on the plan on May 6.

Posted Thursday, April 24, 2014