A Technology Revolution- Part 3

imagesSometime in the mid 80’s my family bought our first home computer. It was a Commodore 64c and it was the latest computer poised to take over the marketplace.  In 1995 after teaching for a couple of years my wife and I invested in our own home computer.  This time it was an IBM desktop and with the IBM employee discount from a family friend we paid $2,600 dollars. (Based on an inflation calculator that is the equivalent of paying $4047.00 today.  Yikes!)

The good news is that devices are better today and cheaper today than they have ever been.  As we created our three year technology plan, that reality became very apparent.

In Worthington we believe:

  • The demands of the workplace require educational institutions to educate and train students in the use of a wide range of technology in order to better prepare students for highly skilled and well-paying jobs.
  • Technology provides a means to meet the diverse learning needs of students.
  • Technology provides motivation for students and facilitates their active involvement in activity-based learning.
  • Technological resources will have a positive impact upon student achievement and motivation.

Thus with that in mind our plan is for Worthington to be a 1:1 school district by 2017.  In order for this to happen Worthington will provide mobile devices in school at a ratio of mobile 1 device for every 2.5 students.  We will then ask families to provide students with devices for their students to bring to school under our BYOD policy.  For under $220.00 a family can provide a device that will adequately do everything a student would need to do in 95% of all classes and should last at least three years.  We believe that as technology is integrated throughout the school district and families see the benefit of their students having their own technology the low price point makes it an attractive option.  (While $220.00 is expensive to put it into perspective, as a dad I can purchase a device for my child that will enhance their education and should last for three year for less than the price I pay for one season of travel soccer.  We’ll begin advertising specs for devices to purchase in mid-Oct. before the holiday season.)

Our decision to integrate a BYOD plan with Worthington provided devices was intentional.  We want technology to be a tool to help students learn, not the focus of the student’s day.  Often with full 1:1 standardized roll-outs of technology, the device becomes an “add-on” and the pressure to use it consistently and effectively in the classroom becomes more important than thoughtful delivery of the curriculum.

Within our schools we will provide a variety of devices.  This fall 2,800 chromebooks will enter our ecosystem.  The chromebook is fast, portable,durable, easy to support, and reasonably priced.  In addition we will continue to provide PC laptops.  These devices have more functionality but come at a higher cost.  Finally we have many specialty labs for STEM, video production, etc.., that use MAC’s because of their specialized nature.

For the first time, all teachers will also be allowed to BYOD or will be provided with Worthington mobile devices.  For a long time we have asked our teachers to provide mobile learning opportunities for students but we have not provided them the technology to do so.  This technology plan changes that expectation.

Because we will be asking families to provide technology, we recognize that not all families will have the means to do so.  Thus at each school we are working to create lending libraries where students can check out a laptop and a wireless access point just like they would check out a book from the library.  This will enable all students to have computer access when and where they need it.

This fall devices will transform our elementary schools.  Later in the school year and into next fall our secondary school classrooms will follow suit.  By the middle of 2015, you’ll see a totally different school district.

For more detailed information on our technology plan please visit our technology plan website which can be accessed at: https://sites.google.com/a/wscloud.org/2012-bond-implementation/

-Trent Bowers, Assistant Superintendent

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