Instructional technology includes what is commonly referred to as IT (Information Technology). We say ‘includes’ because our emphasis is on instruction and learning, not on hardware and software. We maintain a technology infrastructure that can support our instructional and organizational needs, but our primary focus is on supporting student learning.
We will be finishing up our second year of one-to-one learning in grades 6-12. With an exciting instructional transformation occurring at the high school next year, we see the role of the laptop becoming even more important as a tool that truly differentiates instruction to meet each individual student’s needs. Following along with this new change, we continue to bolster the offerings that are available on our online learning management system and believe that this will increase access to courses and content 24/7; in essence extending the school day to allow students to learn no matter what time, day or night or where they might be.
Equipment at our elementary schools is aging, but we continue to use Google Applications effectively with students to collaborate on larger projects especially in our curricular focus areas of science and social studies. Also, teachers finally have the bandwidth and an adequate number of projectors to use their laptops effectively from the front of the classroom when using interactive multimedia and simulations.
Infinite Campus Student Information System
Our student information system becomes more important than ever as we attempt to rely less on paper and provide more information to parents digitally. Currently the system provides parents with report cards, progress reports, attendance records, district announcements and fees. Students are also able to register for classes and look at their schedules. Last year, we rolled out the e-mailer system, which allows teachers and as well as other district staff to send automated e-mails to parents. This can include information about missing assignments, upcoming exams, snow days or other emergency announcements.
This year our focus has been on integrating cafeteria services into our student information system. Our new point of sale system works natively with Infinite Campus and parents can now find up to the minute information about their child’s meal plan.
Our data warehouse server is also up and running storing data from our student information system. Coupled with our data visualization software, Tableau, it will become a powerful tool as we collect data around our curriculum, assessment and student achievement and create graphics full of easy to understand insights. Currently we are using these two tools to look at our Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports data.
Last year we upgraded our wireless infrastructure at three schools. This year we upgraded our bandwidth at all of our schools district wide. At our high school and middle school campuses we are up to 100 Mb/s while all of our elementary schools have had their bandwidth increased from 1.5 Mb/s to 10 Mb/s which allows teachers to engage students with online interactives and educational videos without taxing the system.
There were no curtailments this year, but our instructional software and hardware budget for next year has been reduced 20% over this current year’s budget. Many new initiatives or equipment upgrades will need to be put off in the coming year. We will focus on maintaining our older equipment and provide expanded professional development on instructional tools currently being used.
Our department goals align perfectly with those of the district and the Board in that our commitment is to students first. Our department sees technology as a tool to allow teachers to be more efficient in delivering their expertise to our students. We believe that keeping technology running smoothly will provide increased opportunities and equal access for students. We want to be a part of encouraging a life-long love of learning in our students and to prepare them for our world in this 21st century. We want students more involved in the ownership and design of their own learning and hope that our district’s students and teachers can learn together as our world advances.
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