MDR's Free Webinar Series
April 30, 2008
Key Learnings & Trends on Implementing Technology Initiatives
Q: Is there any information about teachers' use of online social networks—specifically to discuss use of a program-specific curriculum (for example, Scott Foresman and Houghton Mifflin)?
JH: I would look at Peter Grunwald’s work for Pew Center.
Q: Did Bryan ISD see gains in SPED (special education) too?
MC: Yes, the majority of SPED students take on-level state assessments with modifications and are represented in the data.
Q: With the integration of more technology services, are schools more amenable to annual subscription rates for online education versus the traditional one purchase every few years?
MC: Funding is always tight, and yearly subscriptions are difficult to build into an annual budget that is shifting. That being said, we do plan for annual subscriptions and prioritize needs to be sure the funds are allocated for curriculum-aligned online resources.
Q: Jeanne mentioned a Web site. What is cosn.org/broadband?
JH: Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) is the Web site for the leading
nonprofit association for technology leaders in K-12. We have developed a special knowledge center on it devoted to issues of school bandwidth.
Q: What would be the impact, if funding was dropped, on distance learning, and how would that damage future generations in relation to business and major corporations?
MC: Distance learning is a critical 21st century skill/tool that our students need to have access to in order to prepare them for their futures. The fastest-growing higher ed and K-12 institutions are online, and our students will need to establish a level of comfort with online and distance learning.
Q: How are schools preparing for implementation of the next generation of portable digital devices—for example, phones that will soon supersede capability of laptops?
JH: As you know, schools are often the last to adopt leading-edge technology. If phones become dominant and serve a need, I’m sure they’ll use them. Right now, the excitement is student computing devices, like the Intel Classmate and the XO from One Laptop per Child.
Q: Would the online books or chapters be available only to elementary and middle schools, or would that include college students?
JH: The college market is actually more robust on providing online books/chapters than is K-12. See Campus Technology magazine.
Q: What is the expected role of a textbook publisher in delivering content in a digital format?
JH: Generally, publishers are expected to provide not just raw content but also a system within which to use it, whether an LMS, an SIS, or another more specific application.
DS: Given the way kids today look at information, content in the future will be more than just text and available in more flexible formats.
Q: Is there more influence when teachers are engaged and leveraged first, or is there more engagement when it comes from the administration as a top-down initiative?
JH: The best answer is “both,” but the administration usually has the say on what is done. If they are smart, they will engage the teachers early and often in planning and give them laptops/devices before they give them to students.
MC: Both parties are no doubt critical to the success of any change initiative a school is implementing. The key is having a leader who believes in the initiative and seeks the support and buy-in from the faculty to help make decisions about the change process.
Q: If hardware as a percentage of the budget is down, what is a hardware supplier to do?
JH: The cost of a hardware unit has declined, but the number of units sold is not declining. Schools are moving to lower-cost solutions. Right now, the new devices are getting the attention, but schools are still buying many traditional hardware pieces.
Q: What is the average annual laptop/hardware budget that is used for replacement/theft/damage?
MC: We currently have five-year replacement cycles for computers in Bryan ISD, but this is dependent upon funding. We purchase a minimum three-year warranty with all computers to keep costs down on repairs. For our 1:1 school, we also purchase an insurance policy to protect us in the event of accidental damage or theft. In this situation, the student pays a $100 deductible per incident.
Q: How do you measure the successful implementation of new technology by teachers within a district?
JH: In America’s Digital Schools 2008, we asked districts how they measure successful implementations. The leading answer was by teacher and student feedback.
MC: The best measure is to look at student products and lesson plans. What are students creating with technology? Additionally, for each technology grant we implement, we have an independent outside evaluator.
Q: What is the role for the librarian in implementing these technology and learning initiatives?
JH: In many schools, the librarian has transformed herself into a source of information about new technologies and helps with the purchasing process. In other cases, the librarian/media specialist is still focused on print media.
MC: The librarian is an instructional leader and resource on the campus and must be able to assist teachers and students with technology integration.
Q: What percentage of schools are taking advantage/use Internet2?
DS: Over 50,000 schools in 42 states connect to Internet2.
Q: Does your BOCES research suggest technology products that schools would be interested in, or do you get requests for particular software directly from educators?
DS: We work with districts in both ways, some to help develop best practice and some to support applications that have already been chosen.
Q: In terms of hardware, how are these two leaders looking at the recent spate of thin client Netbooks—low cost but high bandwidth needs?
DS: We are just beginning to have districts using thin client hardware in large-scale implementations. Most of those doing so have robust infrastructure locally. These districts have done a good job planning and implementing.
Q: What is your district's position on Google relative to technology that supports the curriculum and student research?
DS: Several of the districts in Colorado are using or looking at using Google Apps, such as Google Docs. Those using it are having good success.