With the passage of issues 53 and 54 last November, the school district embarked on an aggressive plan to upgrade the infrastructure of our “old house.” Most current Worthington schools were built or remodeled between 1955 and 1995. Obviously they were built with the latest technology at the time. (I think Apple IIe comes to mind, as does hours playing Oregon Trail. And that was for the schools built in the early 90’s, not the ones built in the 50’s.) As our schools were built the district could never have imagined what technology would look like as our students begin in August of 2013. Thus our electrical infrastructure, as well as our bandwidth infrastructure, was woefully short for today’s needs, let alone tomorrows.
Our first major technology project this summer and fall was a mass upgrade to the infrastructure. Bandwidth, switches and electrical capacity issues are being addressed across the district. This investment will not only make Worthington competitive in 2013, but it should allow us to make instructional decisions that are best for kids without worrying that we don’t have the technology infrastructure to support the decisions.
With that in mind, students who choose to bring their own device to school under our BYOD policy will see much faster access and ability to navigate the network, especially at the high schools. Those students who don’t bring devices to school will have more choices. Since students left school last May over 450 new lap-tops and tablet computers have been added to our schools. These devices will provide students and teachers flexibility with using computers when and where they need them. Likewise, over 80 Smart boards will be installed in elementary classrooms. These smart boards and the corresponding projectors, will ensure that most every elementary classroom in the district has a tool that will allow students to interact with their curriculum, especially with their Stepping Stones and Digits Math curriculum’s.
Furthermore, the upgraded infrastructure allows the district to move to online MAP (NWEA) testing that will provide teachers and parents with instant feedback on student progress. This real-time information will immediately help guide instructional practice in the classroom and eliminates both the lag in feedback we had previously, and the necessity to test in a lab.
And…..that’s not all. Since May the district has replaced 256 printers. We’ve added video screens for each elementary conference room in order to project student data during IEP and data team meetings. We’ve updated the video production hardware and software at each high school, and added 46 new computers to these specialized programs.
Our goal with technology is to put the tools in the hands of students and teachers that will allow them to create, evaluate, analyze and connect with others. This summer we took a major step forward in our quest. As the school year continues we will meet with multiple stakeholder groups to determine how to best continue integrating technology into every Worthington classroom.
As you’ve seen with things like online fee payment, we’re not yet where we want to be in all aspects of technology. And, frankly, it seems that when we figure out exactly where we want to be with technology, they invent something new and dynamic and our goal changes. Thus, we’re striving to get better every day. We’re attempting to put a robust infrastructure in place that will allow us capacity and flexibility both now and in the future, and as we add devices, we’re working to add devices that will be placed directly in the hands of students that create more interactive learning environments.
In the last nine weeks enormous changes have taken place. We’re excited to see the impact these changes will have in the classroom.