North Penn board analyzes technology concerns for district moving forward
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.