Chinook meeting technology challenges
The Technology Status Report and the first quarter Financial Report from Sept. 1 to Nov. 30, 2010 were the key topics at the Jan. 10 regular meeting of the Chinook School Division Board.
Ron McConnell, Supervisor of Technology, said in his report Jan. 10 that all schools in the Chinook School Division received new hardware or software of one type or another in 2010, including the replacement of 450 computers, 650 oldstyle monitors with low-energy flat screen monitors, the upgrading of eight schools with fibre-optic Internet, and the installation of two SMART Boards (interactive white boards).
“Technology is becoming more of a learning tool in schools and most of our schools have pretty good access to equipment like SMART Boards or the Internet or LCD projectors, computer labs,” said Kyle McIntyre, Deputy Director of Education.
“We have a good studentcomputer ratio in our Division. Some schools, by their size, have more opportunity to access that than others, but I think as a Division we’re proud of the opportunities kids have with technology.
“ We typically have a replacement plan in place where over time we remove certain equipment that has outlived it’s functional usage and replace it with other equipment and where possible we’re trying to be more green as a Division,” McIntyre added.
One ongoing challenge for the Division is access to sufficient bandwidth.
“School Divisions are given our bandwidth for Internet through CommunityNet [Saskatchewan’s high-speed internet system], which is sort of the bandwidth pipe that comes from Regina and the Ministry of Learning,” McIntyre explained.
“We try to use that bandwidth to meet the learning needs of kids, but one of the challenges occurs at this time of year when kids get [electronics] and sometimes bring them in unknowingly into the school and those things take some of the bandwidth from some of the learning applications that we have as a system.”
Bandwidth ‘theft’ occurs when portable devices such as laptops, e-readers, Netbooks, iPods, and SMART phones use school bandwidths to access videos or music.
“[Students] don’t realize that it is choking off bandwidth that’s used for other learning applications,” said McIntyre. “As a learning community we all have to do our part to ensure that we’re protecting the bandwidth.”
Another challenge matching technology curriculum needs.
“The challenge with technology is that you can never really keep up with schools in what’s going on in a larger community and the world around us, so we’re fighting a bit of a losing battle in terms of school divisions.
“ We’re trying to provide some good, sound reliable infrastructure for our kids to learn with. Sometimes the greatest challenge is making sure that the technology is able to meet the learning outcomes that are in the curriculum, because sometimes as a tool itself it doesn’t necessarily ensure that there’s going to be better learning that occurs with technology,” McIntyre said. is to