The first delivery of more than 2,000 Smart Schools Bond Act (SSBA) funded Chromebooks arrived in the district last week, and the department of Technology and Innovation began the planned distribution on Friday afternoon. By design, teachers are receiving the first Chromebooks so they may further prepare for the 1:1 environment that will be the new reality of our grade 6-12 classrooms in the next few weeks. During the week of February 13, 2017, each teacher who requested a device will be provided one, and the second phase of distribution–providing the devices to middle and high school students to use in school and at home–will take place the following week. The New York Smart Schools Commission Report underscores the need to“extend connectivity beyond the four walls of the classroom so students from all backgrounds have equal access to the information superhighway.” Providing Chromebooks for students to use in school and at home is an important step for the district to achieve that goal.
Friday afternoon’s distribution to 45 BHS teachers went without a hitch. Unlike challenges in past years with various other devices, the Department of Technology and Innovation team–working with the business office–was able to design a streamlined process to inventory, deploy, configure and register each device. It took each teacher approximately five minutes to unbox the Chromebook and have it fully enrolled and configured, with the appropriate security safeguards in place as well as listed in the district’s inventory.
Access to devices and resources are a vital ingredient in our students’ success as learners, but it’s only part of the equation. New York Smart Schools Commission Report also emphasizes the need to “provide high-quality, continuous professional development to teachers, principals, and staff to ensure successful integration of technology into the teaching and learning experience.” Professional learning opportunities are an essential part of our district’s fabric. For well over a year, our teachers have participated in various learning cohorts (i.e. Brewster Digital Educators, Google Certified teachers) and dozens of formal learning workshops available to instructional and non-instructional employees before, during and after school hours, as well as a popular week long summer institute.