Friday, June 10, 2011

Mobile Technology Coming to Schools

From our IT head, Jim Ratchford, comes news of grant via Title IID of about $105k for  classroom technology.  In the past, the money had been used for their Educational Technologist Program (for teachers) but the money was reduced so they decided to go a different route - mobile technology.

All schools were invited to apply for mobile computing devices (a cart of them) for a pilot program.  The carts will have iPods (Touch) and iPads for use in the classroom during the 2011-2012 school year.  After the selection, school teams will receive professional development about their use during the summer and during the school year.   The iPad carts will have a laptop with 15 iPads and the iPod carts will have a laptop and 30 iPod Touch devices.   

There were 50 applications.  

The winning proposals came from:

Denny Middle School

Sand Point Elementary

Alki Elementary

North Beach Elementary

Pathfinder K-8

Orca K-8

Lowell Elementary

Center School High School

Kimball Elementary

Eckstein Middle School

This selection was based on the merit of the proposals with secondary consideration given to equity of distribution across elementary, middle, K-8, and high schools; subject matter; and region. Because it is a pilot program, they wanted the strongest proposals gauge possible future expansion.

I think this is just a great creative way to find a good use for fewer tech dollars.  


dan dempsey said...

MW wrote:
"I think this is just a great creative way to find a good use for fewer tech dollars."

With content instruction on the demise
a. Reform Math
b. Reader's workshop
c. Writer's workshop

It will be interesting to see how this technology will be used.

To be clear I am a BIG tech fan when Tech is used as part of a coherent program to produce academic achievement.... I'll be waiting to see any positive results that were caused by this Tech purchase.

Hopefully this will prove to be a good use for Tech dollars.

Andrew Davidson said...

This came about because SPS lost funding next year for what is called the ET (Educational Technology) support program.

The ETs were certificated teachers at each building who received a small yearly stipend to provide tech support and liaison for the other teachers in their building.

This had been funded by federal monies, but those funds will not be renewed next year, so that program is cancelled.

There were some leftover funds, but not enough for another year, so they decided to use them up on this grant program because they had to be spent by the end of the current fiscal year.

dan dempsey said...

Andrew ... WOW!!! Left over funds....,

How surprising the funds were not transferred to Cleveland STEM ... like the carryover funds from 30+ low income schools.

Andrew Davidson said...

Maybe I chose the wrong word, Dan. Here's the way I understood it. (I was one of the ET teachers, not involved in the management.)

The group responsible for the ET program had been carefully managing those federal funds for a number of years, attempting to stretch them as much as possible to support a variety of different educational technology projects across the district. They had worked to roll over funds each year to try to keep many different worthy programs going, including the stipends for the ET teachers.

With the program funding cut off finally this year, though, rolling over was no longer legally possible, since they were federal funds that had to be used for very specific purposes.

So "leftover" really means what was intended to be rolled over into next year but now can't be done.

And similarly, I suspect that they were not allowed to just dedicate those funds to one particular school.

These are just suppositions on my part, but I don't think there is any need for concern here about inappropriate practice. The ET program did a lot of good things for a lot of teachers and students across the district.

Anonymous said...

Just a sneaky little jab at TFA here. The cohort of Master's students in teaching at UW has been and is still being taught to use technology in their classroom. Using a Smart Board, laptops, iPads and iPods to interact with their students before, during, and after classes is something the cohort chose to pursue rather than the usual path of drill and practice games.

The cohort has a great technology instructor, but they chose to go past what he was teaching in an attempt to make technology more accessible and more meaningful to the students they will be teaching.

One Master's student told me that they needed to go beyond the home/school connection via the internet. Few of her students had computers in their home. As a matter of fact, many of them didn't have telephone service of any type, much less a computer. They realized that they couldn't take the traditional path involving the use of technology and struggled to find ways to get students to look at iPads and iPods as something other than a device for entertainment.

In other words, they took the knowledge they had already learned through earlier class work and put it to use in building bridges to address challenges that they hadn't even encountered yet.

Does TFA address that in their 5-week intensive training course? I doubt it.

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