In Worthington we are committed to creating an environment where both our students and our staff have the technology tools necessary to compete in a global environment. Things change quickly in technology. So quickly, in fact, that this year in Worthington we have decided to take a step back and make certain we know where we want to go over the next several years.
In order to help make our commitment to technology rich classrooms a reality, the Worthington Board of Education worked with Dr.Tucker to set measurable goals for the 2013-2014 school year. One of those goals was related to technology within our school district. The goal as written states:
“By June of 2014, a master technology plan (3 year plan) will be presented. Critical components will include: developing and implementing an infrastructure which will maximize the effective utilization of all designated technology equipment and tools; identification of the recommended technology equipment, tools and resources which will heighten student utilization of technology as a tool for learning; expand options for student learning in regards to course offerings, flexibility with time, etc.; and provide the resources that support the training/PD to staff to effectively utilize technology as an instructional tool.”
In order to accomplish this goal and provide opportunity for broad stakeholder input into the direction for technology in Worthington a large team of teachers, parents, students, community technology professionals, board of education members and administrators was assembled. This committee has been meeting monthly throughout the school year and is on track to present a plan in late June.
The committee began their work by identifying the four critical components of the goal. Those components were determined to be Infrastructure, Equipment, Training/Professional Development, and Options for Student Learning. The committee then defined the components so each team member had a shared understanding of the components. Next the team created a vision for what we would like to see in the future for each area.
When the plan is complete in June, the vision for each component will be accompanied by recommendations from the committee on how to accomplish the vision and specific, time-bound action plans for accomplishing the recommendations. Furthermore, a comparison of Worthington’s current state of technology will be accompanied by a description of our future desired state. Stay tuned for that!
Here are the four components of the technology plan, the definition and vision for the future that our team created along with our current state of technology in each area.
Infrastructure is – “wiring, connectivity, and foundational support of instruction.”
Vision for Infrastructure: acquire consistent wireless connectivity and bandwidth throughout the district in order to support seamless operational and instructional efforts.
Current State of Infrastructure:
Worthington City Schools is a large organization with over 20,000 users including students, parents and staff. All elementary schools have been updated with quad outlets to prepare for the potential need for charging of mobile devices in the classroom. Additional electrical outlets may be required for some classrooms depending on need of charging locations and additional mobile carts (containing at least 15 devices). Currently all elementary and secondary classrooms have the capability to plug in up to 10 mobile devices, including the teacher desktop computer at one time. Every elementary and secondary room has at least one drop for high-speed internet. 100% of elementary and secondary classrooms have wireless access. This includes offices, labs, and media centers in each building. However, there is a need to upgrade for higher-density usage in multiple classrooms (20 or more devices logged into the internet at one time in a classroom). All routers and switches are updated and capable of managing the high speed network.
As changes are made to the wireless network, upgrading of servers in all buildings and the data center will need to occur. This will allow for increased file storage for operations, students and staff as well as provide necessary redundancy to prevent loss of data or access.
Equipment is -”physical technology used in instruction and for learning.”
Vision for Equipment – create processes to assure appropriate equipment is available to all students and staff in order to promote successful technology integration.
Current State of Equipment:
All elementary school classrooms have a Smartboard and projector, including art and music classrooms. In addition, every core subject classroom has at least 4 computer workstations with non-core classrooms having at least one computer workstation. Each elementary building has at least one mobile device cart (with at least 30 machines). All elementary schools have a computer lab classroom with at least 25 desktop machines (exception is Evening St. which has no lab but one additional laptop cart of 30). Several building PTA’s have purchased additional laptops, indicating there may be additional need. Elementary schools have some access to additional technology devices such as document cameras and student response systems. These are not consistent across buildings.
All secondary school classrooms will have a projector or large screen monitor (70”) by next school year. Each classroom has a minimum of 1 computer workstation. All secondary schools have more than one computer lab classroom. There are a minimum of 2 (60) laptop carts in every secondary school. Additional technologies, such as Smartboard, document cameras, and student response systems are present but not consistent. Currently, all Smartboard requests by staff will be installed by next school year. All staff have access to a desktop computer but not a mobile device. Computer replacement has been done through the use of bond dollars through planned expenditures, as we are now developing.
District technology equipment standards are used to determine purchasing decisions. There are two versions of operating systems based on the specific equipment. Typically MAC’s are only used for video production labs at the high schools. Having two platforms (PC/MAC) to support does take considerable time and effort. If we moved to two platforms district-wide it would take considerable more technology support in time and staff. There are very few tools available to support massive installation of MAC equipment. Currently, all equipment has Microsoft Office or comparable applications, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc… These purchases can change to meet the specific needs of the software/application of the technology. Currently, most machines are using Windows XP or Windows 7 operating system.
The district has been piloting the use of iPads, iPods, and other specific technology equipment to assist the learning needs of students with Disabilities and English Language Learners. These tools are typically for use in the building only. Currently, these pilots are not standardized and are experimenting with multiple devices and applications.
Options for Student Learning are -”how technology is used to access education.”
Vision for Options for Student Learning: develop a clear plan for advancing student learning, creativity, and innovation in both face-to-face and virtual environments so that students can become responsible digital citizens.
Current State of Options for Student Learning:
All elementary schools have online access to a variety of applications. Some buildings have programs like Compass Learning and Study Island which provide student-led lessons based on their student achievement results. Other applications include IXL math, Digits, Stepping Stones, and Raz Kids to provide intervention and enrichment for reading and math. WKHS has one full online art course at this time. All secondary students have access to eSchool online courses for students who are trying to recover credits toward graduation. Some secondary staff are utilizing blended learning options for students. This allows students to access content or learning activities online and face-to-face. There are very few student textbooks currently available online. All staff has access to post assignments or learning activities online through Infinite Campus, Moodle, or Teacher Webpages. Not all staff are utilizing these resources at this time.
Ensuring students are able to utilize technology effectively and appropriately is important to the district. To assist with this, all students have access to the iSafe curriculum in all grades through the library media specialists. This is an e-rate requirement for learning about internet safety and cyber bullying. A few elementary schools also use learning.com software to learn about internet safety. These courses are provided free through the Ohio Department of Education (ODE).
The curriculum department approves all software purchases for elementary and secondary schools. This ensures the software is appropriate and relates to our new learning standards. The technology department ensures software is able to work on our machines prior to purchase. There is not a current, consistent plan for the use of technology in the classroom.
Training / Professional Development is – “continuing differentiated training and support.”
Vision for Training and Professional Development: provide an environment of professional learning that empowers staff to enhance student learning through the effective use of technologies and digital resources.
Current State of Training and Professional Development:
The district provides technology integration professional learning by request through 3 technology instructional support staff. Last year, these support staff have provided over 2200 scheduled professional learning sessions for staff across the district. So far this year there have been over 800. The district previously purchased online access to atomic learning, a web-based program for providing professional learning related to technology integration. This resource was not widely used by staff and the subscription was not renewed.
All staff have access to technical support through an online request system. There are no specific building personnel assigned to technology support, but we have 6 district technical support staff to address the needs of buildings. On average building level help tickets are closed within 1-2 working days, with the average of all district help tickets falling to below 8 hours for closure. Staff may also use email or phone to receive technology support.
Over the next few months you will see more detail and gain greater understanding on where our technology committee believes Worthington should head over the next three years with technology. We’re building on a solid foundation and are excited about what our shared future will hold.
- Trent Bowers, Assistant Superintendent