Three Minute Update: July 18, 2008

SMART Board update – SMART Board site visits and surveys have been completed and installations begin on Monday (7/21/08). Many teachers were involved in this process to ensure the boards will be utilized by students as much as possible. The professional development/24/12 sessions related to the SMART Board have largely been “sold out,” and the feedback has been very strong. In September, there will be a SMART Board setup in every kindergarten classroom, in every art classroom, and in every math classroom. The commitment to professional development with regard to using this technology to transform student learning is unwavering, and Valerie Henning-Piedmonte, John Calvert, and I have frequent discussions and planning sessions to ensure that the professional development opportunities are plentiful.

SMART Board Model Change (elementary schools) – We have made a change in the roll-out of the SMART Boards that will impact all elementary schools. We have changed the model of SMART Board from the G2 (which is the model installed in the CG Board room) to a wall mounted model with the projection unit mounted in the ceiling. The minimum height for the G2 was 26 inches from the floor (due to the arm which extends from the wall), which is not acceptable for the elementary school students who will be interacting with the boards. To install at 19” – 25” as planned in the elementary schools, we needed to modify our order. This does not impact our roll-out, installation schedule, or training.

Digital Toolbox Update – At the end of the school year, a subset of the technology committee spend more than six hours reviewing three product “finalists) with regard to our digital toolbox. The goal is to provide our teachers and students with anytime/anywhere access to documents and tools to enhance student learning. We ruled out Moodle, liked blackboard.com, and were intrigued by Google’s Applications for Domains (special thanks to community member and educator Jerry Crisci for demonstrating the power of this package). In short, blackboard.com was rather traditional in the approach to learning, and Google Applications for Domains provided a broader and more open set of tools. A small group is beta testing this system, and we have been in communications with Google in efforts to restrict the “gadgets” that are available for “start” and “sites” pages, many of which many be inappropriate for the K-12 environment. At this point, Google has provided modified code which would allow us to control which gadgets are available for start pages, but not yet for “sites.”

Surplus Computers – Our department has been actively collaborating with the buildings and grounds department to remove the computers that were identified earlier this year as surplus. This is no small feat, as there are 502 computers on the list.

N-Computing – As we remove the surplus computers, we are installing a blend of high end Pentium 4 computers and low-cost n-computing devices. Strategically deploying these devices provides our students and teachers with greater access high quality computer stations. Additionally, there is a significant savings of space, electricity, licensing, and service, resulting in a much lower “total cost of ownership” for our hardware.

Student Information System Update – Dr. O’Connell, Dr. Leh, Ms. Prince-Bradbury, and I had an pre-planning meeting with Doc Watson and Rich Somyak (eSchoolData). The district has decided to work directly with the vendor during year one (the conversion and scheduling process), and evaluate our options (continue direct from vendor or use LHRIC services) for years two and beyond. I have had conversations with LHRIC and eSchoolData with regard to our decision, and both support it completely.

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