North Penn board an­a­lyzes tech­nol­ogy con­cerns for dis­trict mov­ing for­ward

North Penn Life - - OPINION - By Linda Stein lstein@jour­nal­reg­is­ter.com

Pro­vid­ing tools to teach students who are “dig­i­tal na­tives” and learn dif­fer­ently from their par­ents was the fo­cus of the North Penn School Board’s work­shop meet­ing Tues­day.

The ses­sion was for in­for­ma­tion only with de­ci­sions about where the dis­trict will put its tech­nol­ogy bud­get to come la­t­erI said board Pres­i­dent sin­cent Sher­pin­sky.

The board lis­tened as Robin LutcherI man­ager of tech­nol­o­gyI de­scribed the de­ci­sions that need to be made so that the dis­trict can continue to use tech­nol­ogy both in the class­rooms and WR PDNH PRUH HI­fiFLHNW UVH of staff time. To that endI the dis­trict will need to im­prove its in­fras­truc­tureI Lutcher said.

The high school is al­ready us­ing the new wire­less plat­formI ArubaI as is In­gle­wood ble­men­tary SchoolI be­cause it is be­ing ren­o­vated. The mid­dle schools will be nextI fol­lowed in a year by the other 1O el­e­men­tary schoolsI said Lutcher. There was a need to up­grade the mid­dle schools be­cause the state may soon man­date that students take the hey­stone bx­ams on­lineI Lutcher said. Ninth-graders will be re­quired to take the hey­stone Al­ge­bra exam.

“In­fra­struc­ture is the back­bone of ev­ery­thing we doI” Lutcher said. Al­soI many text­books now have an on­line com­po­nent that students need ac­cess to the In­ter­net to useI she said.

Many dis­tricts are mov­ing to­ward “bring your own de­vice” for students and teach­ersI but the school build­ings need to be ready to pro­vide wire­less con­nec­tions for that to work.

Staff mem­bers are al­ready us­ing the “cloud” for Google DocsI she saidI which al­lows doc­u­ment shar­ing. Students will also be us­ing Google DocsI soonI she said.

The dis­trict has al­ready formed tech­nol­ogy com­mit­tees to study var­i­ous is­sues and make rec­om­men­da­tions. One is­sue is train­ing teach­ers to use tech­nol­o­gyI she said.

“We’re in­ves­ti­gat­ing and eval­u­at­ing to make wise de­ci­sions go­ing for­wardI” said Lutcher.

Su­per­in­ten­dent Curt Di­et­rich saidI “This whole thing is com­plex and multi-faceted.” He added that the board may want to spend some of its cap­i­tal on the dis­trict’s tech­nol­ogy needs.

Lutcher said that hav­ing enough staff mem­bers to sup­port and train teach­ers and oth­ers is also a need.

Some of the board mem­bers seemed bullish on the idea of im­prov­ing tech­nol­ogy.

“I’m ad­vo­cat­ing in­creas­ing our IT ca­pa­bil­i­ties as rapidly as pos­si­bleI” said board mem­ber Joseph Sul- li­van. The dis­trict’s “in­fra­struc­ture is not al­low­ing our teach­ers to do what­ever they want to do.”

Sher­pin­skyI who ad­mit­ted to be­ing a tech­nol­ogy mavenI saidI “As far as in­fras­truc­tureI with­out pro­fes­sional train­ingI it’s use­less. It’s a multi-year process to move some­one out of the Stone Age.”

Lutcher agreedI say­ingI “Pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment is crit­i­cal.”

As­sis­tant Su­per­in­ten­dent Diane Hol­ben said that teach­ers also need on­go­ing coach­ing.

“Some of this is get­ting the adults to where the students al­ready areI” said Hol­ben.

Lutcher said that she plans to have the Mont­gomery County In­ter­me­di­ate rnit help with a com­plete as­sess­ment of the dis­trict’s tech­nol­ogy.

Par­ent Maria Gardizy of HDW­fiHOG VDLG WKDW NRW WKDW her chil­dren are in mid­dle schoolI teach­ers are not us­ing the avail­able tech­nol­ogy on the dis­trict’s web­site to keep par­ents in the loop. Al­soI her daugh­ters would love to bring their e-read­ers to school with themI but right nowI they can’t.

“Let’s cre­ate an awe­some web­site that ev­ery­body en­viesI” Gardizy said.

“This whole con­ver­sa­tion started with look­ing at ereaders and go­ing down this road of vir­tual text­booksI” said Hol­ben.

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