Technology Making Major Purchases

The district has announced the following:

In February 2016, Seattle voters approved the Building, Technology, and Academics (BTA) IV levy with $16 million dollars dedicated to “upgrade and expand classroom/student technology equipment and services, mobile and stationary computer labs, and increase on-site technical support services for schools and student technology.”

After BTA IV passed, the Seattle School Board asked staff for research on the efficacy of technology in the classroom, a technology plan, and further engagement. Over the course of two years, staff has completed research, piloted programs, conducted extensive engagement and an equity analysis, inventoried current technology use, and created a comprehensive plan for technology in Seattle Public Schools.
The  backed by research, state Educational Technology Standards, and the district and community, outlines district goals for technology and directly supports the s priority of High Quality Teaching and Learning Experiences, with an initial focus on supporting students furthest away from educational justice. 

Classroom technology use will follow the foundational principles developed over two years of engagement and as outlined in the district’s new technology plan:
  • Technology use will support classroom instructional goals and board adopted curriculum, providing opportunities for students to become “proficient users of information, media, and technology,” and “learn core subjects and applied skills in relevant and rigorous ways,” as outlined in
  • The district will provide a baseline of technology for all schools, reducing inequities and ensuring equitable access as outlined
  • Through targeted investments, the district will eliminate the use of libraries and computer labs for student assessments, increasing access to technology in individual classrooms
  • The district and schools will follow the technology plan, standards, and research when selecting and implementing new technology solutions
What I am not clear about is two-fold.  What is the learning plan about the use of technology?  And, what about health and screen time.  I include this story from Arlington, Virginia school district where it was stated (bold theirs, color mine):
“Screen time” is an often misunderstood and misused phrase. It is important to understand to what we refer when we say “screen time,” if we use the phrase at all, and empower ourselves with current facts.

In October of 2016, the American Academy of Pediatrics revised its guidelines to drop a hard-and-fast rule about length of time children of any age should be using a digital device. Previous guidelines did not control for important variables, and were therefore overly restrictive. The current state of the literature helps us better understand what does or may cause harm, and what does not.
The phrase “screen time,” as used by academics, refers to using digital media for “entertainment purposes.” Using a digital device for learning is not considered “screen time.”
Remember this information because I'll bet it will be coming to a school near you.  Basically, if "screen time" doesn't occur at school, then the school is saying if your kid is getting too much of it, that's on you.  

 Naturally, the amount of screen time your children have is very dependent on you. Parents/guardians decide if their kids get a smart phone, use a home computer, a gaming system and/or watches tv.  Naturally, if your kids are home alone you may not know for certain how much screen time they have.

But, is the district going to make sure that screen time is monitored in each and every classroom? As parents, will you be able to go to your school's principal and ask, "How much time in a day is my child sitting in front of a screen?  How much class time is there with students looking at a screen while the teacher provides a lesson on that screen? 
The teacher-guided, in-class utilization of digital educational technology within the context of a learning task is not “screen time” as the term is often misused. Using an iPad to practice fact fluency skills as a learning extension at home is also not “screen time.” The most common myth about “screen time” is that prolonged use of digital screens regardless of content is, itself, detrimental to all children in all cases. This is not borne out by the body of research literature on the subject. There was a time when people were deeply concerned about low-level electromagnetic frequency (EMF) radiation from consumer electronics, for example; there is no evidence to support that this is so.
There are, however, important issues surrounding children’s use of technology that all adults should understand.
 Back to the SPS announcement:
To this end the technology plan includes maintaining a baseline of devices on a four-year replacement cycle centrally managed and funded. The proposed elementary and middle school standard will be a cart of laptops/iPads per classroom with 12-16 devices. This mirrors past technology investments K-8.
The most significant change in investment will be at the high school level. In alignment with Washington State Technology Standards, career and college readiness goals, and in order to address the “digital divide,” district staff is proposing all high schools provide a computer to ninth-grade students beginning in 2019-20 to keep for four years. The decision to equip incoming freshman with their own device is not about establishing a ratio, rather ensuring students have the tools and skills they need to be successful in high school and beyond. 

Seattle is far behind neighboring districts in providing this type of learning support to high school students. The Association for Computer Professionals in Education (ACPE), a nonprofit association that strives to increase collaboration and professional development opportunities within the K-12 educational technology community, surveyed all member districts. Out of the 42 respondents, all but six (6) including Seattle had a 1:1 computer ratio in high schools, and most started providing this level of support in earlier grades. 
Higher need high schools including Rainier Beach, Franklin, Seattle World School, and Chief Sealth International will get an accelerated roll out of student laptops if the Seattle School Board approves the district’s technology purchases on June 12. Introduction and discussion of the implementation plan will take place at the May 29, 2019 Regular School Board meeting.
Providing a laptop to every high school student closes an access gap ensuring every student is given the right tools to be successful in high school. In addition to providing high school students a district laptop for four years, wireless hotspots will also be made available for check-out by students who would otherwise not have a way of accessing the internet while away from school.
Story from KNKX. 

Story from Seattle Magazine on video game addiction.


Cha Ching said…
The irony is that every website or software they use will have to be ADA compliant. Programs like Typing Agent, Prodigy and ABC Mouse aren’t allowed to be accessed on SPS computers anymore because they didn’t comply with ADA.
I wonder if Amplify will be on that list too.
Anonymous said…
If something isn't done about the wi-fi issues and in some of the older buildings about the electrical issues, then no one will need to worry about too much screen time. Also, I've heard the middle school classrooms are getting 16 old computers from the high schools, which means that in a few months we will be lucky if all of them are still working. I know that whenever I plan a lesson with technology, I ALWAYS have a back up plan.

Both of you make good points. After this rollout, I wonder how long before the complaints roll in if the district doesn’t supply the technical support, School-based members of ITAC say the support is what is really needed at schools.
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Anonymous said…
Some people have said or I've heard...come on please stop! SPS is not using 16 year old computers! and I suppose you're claiming they will be running windows ME!

The cost of trying to maintain 16 year old computers far exceeds the cost for new ones. A new box is less than $200 in bulk and $200 is less than a tech visit.

So the idea of using 16 year old systems, well even SPS isn't that stupid.

You do know about VMs and RDP, right? You do know Microsoft has stopped making operating system for personnel computers , right?

So soon people will log on to a terminal which runs a browser and that browser will connect to either a VM on a on prem server on to a "cloud" off prem server where your desktop is running. I do this every day. All my apps are there along with a connection to my data storage. I do have a personal backup device in my house just in case, but I have never needed it and I've been running my system in the cloud for 13 months..

Organizations that go this route will no longer need to manage software or configuration issues. You can access your VM from any browser connected to the internet. Got a IPAD? no problem, Xbox ? no problem PS4? again no problem oh and yes your current system cam also work but you don't really need all that horsepower or HD space.

As for connectivity problems, those are by design...I could resolve all those problems in weeks with the correct people and a few million.

Please try and keep up on tech.

Anonymous said…
Ah people the OS handles accessibility issues and windows is ADA compliant. Where have you been? Develop your software using an ADA library and you are good.

Really people the lack of tech understanding from apparently "professionals" is shocking.

It's goes to my point that most teachers not have any real world skills outside of the classroom. I not saying it's a trivial skill to teach just you obviously need to refer these tech matters to those of us who earn our livings doing it and that probably goes for all STEM professions.

Anonymous said…
JK, what are you talking about? Unless I’m missing something, that previous post says “16 old computers” from the high school, not “16-YEAR-old computers.” Re-reading is worth it to your blood pressure, trust me.

*Pragmatic Xennial
JK, thanks for all that. However, SPS has never been good at big rollouts. As well, sometimes even new tablets/laptops go down. Sometimes it might be the machine, sometimes it might be the kid took the computer home and screwed with it.

So you have a couple of these in class, what does the teacher do?
Anonymous said…
Ah yes, 16 old computers and that is subjective, what is old?

If a student some how tweaks a system those VMs images can be refresh on demand.

Students should not be able to change anything on a district owned computer. The district should be using profiles and if a profile gets messed-up then you just restore it and it can all be done by one admin remotely for the entire school district. Teachers don't need to do anything to the system expect click restore.

In the year 2019 I would expect every single teacher to understand the basics of computers and how to leverage tech to help them with teaching.

These are the things people downtown could work on, producing training videos like on You Tube. Is that what the 100s of people at central administrative are doing? Why not?

I meant that students might break computers.

I think most teachers DO understand the "basics of computers" but it's not their job to worry about fixing them. The point is with that many more machines in every classroom, there will be issues and it is not the teacher's job to figure that out.

CascadiaMom said…
My son's computers in his 3rd grade classroom take 8 minutes to log in. the students go log in and then do something else while they wait for it to load.
Stinky Snooper. said…
Anyone look at all the job listings at Amplify?

I doubt the roll out will be smooth.
Maje said…
I'm really happy to hear that they planning on providing a computer to all ninth graders. My 6th grader has some learning disabilities and is eligible to get a district-provided ipad or laptop... but doesn't want to stand out. We've been thinking about trying to get a spot in a Shoreline HS because they already provide devices to their students. I hope it all comes together and we can stay at SPS.
Anonymous said…

Have you seen how much SPS pays for it's computers? When I was at RBHS I was trying to make our dollars stretch and tried to go to Fry's in Renton. Basically $400 a piece for decent desktops. This was also about a decade ago. Nope. Couldn't do it since we had a contract with Dell and we may still. Our laptops are 4th rate 'business' machines that cost a great deal. We are massively overpaying by at least triple on every machine we get. Chromebooks are only a few hundred each and do everything we need better than the sad machines we have currently. I don't know who negotiates these purchasing contracts but the contracts are ridiculous. I can personally provide better value for money.

Mr. Theo Moriarty
I think the district is getting Chromebooks.
Anonymous said…
Well that's a good thing at least. Thanks for the better news!

Theo Moriarty
Anonymous said…
I would be surprised that the district moves to Chromebooks in the classroom. Currently there are no Chromebook devices on the district approved purchasing list, and the district is tied closely with Office 365.
-CD Parent
seattle citizen said…
Every student should have a computer in class with them.
Maybe in their pocket.

Oh, wait...

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