Last month I wrote about the changes that are coming to our state assessment system and how for the first time, our students will be taking the state tests on computers. While implementing the Smarter Balanced assessment online is a huge milestone in WCCUSD, it’s just a small step on our way to putting the modern tools of technology into the hands of ours students and teachers - and making them work effectively.
Our commitment to improve learning through technology is so much greater than simply using computers or tablets for annual state testing. Our students both need and deserve powerful 24/7 devices that give them access to information and resources to empower them to be on par with any student in the world. The goal is to equip our students with computer devices – which in today’s world are as essential as pencil and paper. Over the next three years, we’re going to be thorough and thoughtful in how we go about providing these tools to our students so that our investments in technology pay off in real and measurable learning.
Over the past two years, we’ve been laying the technical foundation in creating wireless networks at schools. As of this month, more than half of our schools have wireless access for students and staff. Our plan is have wireless capability in all of our schools by the time school starts in 2014-15.
Another key component of building a sustainable and robust infrastructure is expanding the pipeline between our schools and the internet. By the end of the calendar year, we’re planning to install a 10 Gigabit fiber network which will connect our schools to our main distribution center, where we house our servers and communication system. We will also be increasing the bandwidth between the District and Contra Costa County Office of Education where we join the internet. This means that we’ll have the pipeline to allow thousands of students to be online at the same time and at acceptable access speeds.
Teacher access and training is also key to our effort. Last fall we surveyed all of our teachers and got responses from more than 85% of them. The survey indicated that more than 40% already incorporate technology into daily instructional practice. We also found many barriers that will be addressed with the completion of the wireless and pipeline projects. As part of our effort to implement the Common Core State Standards, we’ve been identifying a technology support teacher in every school for professional development and general technical support. One milestone that’s already been completed is providing teachers with today’s tools. All our teachers now have a laptop computer, a document camera and an LCD projector.
Student training is also progressing in our schools but not as consistently as we need. Some schools have been teaching keyboarding, search strategies and access of online resources while others have lagged behind. To address this issue, we’re in the process of systematizing our student training and support as we add access and computers in our schools.
Our 2014-2017 Technology Plan
draft is now online and will be reviewed by both our Technology Subcommittee and Board of Education this month. We welcome your comments and suggestions.