Monday, April 16, 2018

Technology in Seattle Schools

I found this fascinating document at the Technology page at SPS, Department of Technology Services (DOTS) Program Report, Winter 2018. Note to DOTS: too many acronyms used that are not explained when first used.)

Fun SPS tech facts:

Across 100 schools, 3,508 teachers, and 54,000 students– We support:
• 19,655 Windows devices
• 4,085 Apple devices
• 6,856 iPads
• A total of 30,596 devices

So far this year we’ve handled:
• 7,440 incidents and 2,663 requests

Random thoughts after reading the report:

 - It would be interesting to know how the percentage of the district's budget is going to technology (both hard and soft costs) and how that compares to other districts.  

 - Our public websites were designed 7 years ago. Information needed to be more eye-catching and easy to locate for our families and community members.  I'd call this one "not Mission Accomplished" and how much money was spent on this effort?

 - Here's a question: What information is the district sharing about students and with whom?  Couldn't a yearly list be compiled on put out on the website with options for opting in or out?

I also note several versions of this statement several times in the report:

More technicians allow for support of a 2:1 program which would greatly impact students access to technology. Some schools are able to fund their own technicians thus creating equity issues. Every school deserves the same level of support.

School PTAs raise money to outfit classrooms with technology thus creating equity issues. Every student in every classroom deserves the same learning experience.

Well, the district controls what the PTA can and cannot fund.  So the DISTRICT could say no to PTAs being able to fund staff.  And the DISTRICT should not act like this "equity" issue is one that more money will solve.  They could solve a lot of it very quickly if they chose to but they'd rather quietly allow some better-off schools to fund staff and then wring their hands over the "equity" issue.

Should they allow PTA money to solve one problem for them in some schools, thereby creating inequities?  Or should they end part of that inequity by not allowing PTAs to fund staff?  

One this point, they need to own their actions but neither they nor the Board want to state this problem right out loud.


Dave said...

Note that most devices are Windows and Apple. Both have high initial and ongoing maintenance costs. Many districts don't have curriculum and instructional leaders with enough tech expertise to oversee a real tech program, so they default to dog and pony shows - cute kids with cool looking laptops. Unless a district has such a person, or can pull in expertise from elsewhere, they should keep their tech very small and build it over time. Many free tools with lots of learning potential are available.

Of course, that approach won't put money in Microsoft & Apple's pocket.

Anonymous said...

High school scheduling has moved to a more centralized online platform - how is that working for schools and will the district use the info to tabulate HS course demand both by school and districtwide?

Some tidbits from the district report:

...The current student counselor caseload is now over 400:1, whereas the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) recommends a student-to-counselor ratio of 250:1. The 24-Credit Task Force is calling to reduce counselors’ caseloads to the ASCA recommended ratio.

...The ability for parents to schedule their own child’s Advanced Learning tests is a significant step forward. We expect this improvement to eliminate countless hours spent by the Advanced Learning team simply scheduling and rescheduling testing for parents – as well as improve the turnout by students whose parents now have ownership in the process of scheduling their own tests.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Parent, thanks for teasing out that the report talks about 24 credits as well as Advanced Learning.

John Krull said...

Thank you for reading the Technology Program Report, a quarterly report we started last Fall to improve transparency of how the Department of Technology Services (DoTS) is progressing with projects that support district goals and use levy funding. DoTS is 85% capital levy funded (via BEX and BTA levies). As the Chief Information Officer (CIO) and head of DoTS, I appreciate the feedback here and will work on suggestions in the Spring update. We're looking for more community input on district systems, data, security & privacy, equitable access, school technology, and infrastructure so, along with the school board, we are starting an Information Technology Advisory Committee and are currently accepting applications. More information can be found at http://applincolnes.seattleschools.org/cms/One.aspx?portalId=627&pageId=37387800
We are also holding community meetings next week on upcoming levies including the BEX V capital levy. Information can be found at https://www.seattleschools.org/levies

Steeeeveeee said...

Schools should switch to teaching using tablets in special software. The whole world is already switching to software. Even the pest control industry is moving there. Recently I learned about fieldworkhq and was shocked how the guys are doing their job well.