MPS looks to add new technology with bond

Mustang Public Schools may be potentially adding an abundance of new technology to every school in the district with the 2017 bond issue.
“When you look at the scale of the bond issue that was just passed, it’s heavy on the facilities and the buildings, but one of those key components of the bond issue was to add technology,” Deputy Superintendent Charles Bradley said. “This initiative will affect almost every single kid in the district, if not every kid in the district.
“The instructional technology hadn’t been a major focus in what we were doing, but it’s simple the world kids live in so it makes sense to move more into the instructional side to incorporate the technology that they see every day.”
Bradley said teachers in the district currently go by the “BYOD” method, in which the teachers and students bring their own devices to incorporate into the classroom, but officials knew they would need to eventually transition more devices into the classroom.
The process of deciding what technology and how much of it to add began by forming the district technology committee. Members of the committee then began to research and collect data on what technology the district currently had, Assistant Superintendent Tracy Skinner said.
They then decided to form subcommittees in October of last year to determine outcomes of technology the technology committee thought would be important in the classrooms at each grade level.
The committees and subcommittees were made up of five elementary teachers, four intermediate teachers, four middle school teachers, five high school teachers, four media directors (one from each level), four principals (one from each level) and four district administrators.
“We wanted to look at what each grade level needed, such as what are the technology needs of a first grader versus a 12th grader,” said Ryan McKinney, director of secondary schools.
As far as research and collaboration goes, the committees used the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), which has standards that Oklahoma has adopted; did research studies on the use of technology in education; collaborated with other districts, and looked at the durability, reliability, flexibility and functionability of different technology.
After doing the research, officials decided some of the non-negotiable things they must have with the new technology is:
—Students to have equal access to technology across the district,
—Common technology package for each classroom and all levels,
—Portable devices that would allow students to use technology where and when they needed it, and
—Technology that meets the needs of all students.
Each grade level then did their own research of what that grade level needs the technology for.
Elementary-aged students will need to:
—Research for expanding a greater understanding of content,
—Build digital projects for classroom presentations,
—Communicate by using technology,
—Share and collaborate with their peers, teachers and others locally and in different schools and locations, and
—Understand and stretch their imaginations by integrating technology into education.
Intermediate school students will need to:
—Expand skills and concepts established in the elementary level,
—Use technology to design, create, describe, and/or illustrate complex concepts/processes across disciplines. Projects may include animation, videos, models and concept-mapping,
—Participate in cooperative learning projects using an online learning community,
—Use technology to collect, organize, analyze and present finding from various forms of data including tracking their personal goals and academic data, and
—Integrate Google Suite into daily classroom activities/assignments and use as a platform to create a personal educational portfolio, use electronic tools to work collaboratively, locally and globally across all content areas.
Students at the middle school level will need to:
—Expand skills and concepts established in the elementary and intermediate level,
—Learn how to make appropriate decisions with technology,
—Have opportunities to research content related to their coursework,
—Collaborate with others through technology,
—Evaluate digital resources to determine the credibility of the author and publisher and the timeliness and accuracy of the content, and
—Be able to apply real world application using technology.
High school students will need to:
—Expand skills and concepts established in previous grades,
—Become self-directed learners,
—Collaborate with other students, educators and specialists to expand the walls of the classroom,
—Have individualized learning plans,
—Research and create media-rich presentations, and
—Experience technology embedded into their coursework that will prepare them to be college and career ready.
Committee members want students to use technology every day, and think the key to successful implantation is strategic professional development, according to a PowerPoint presented during Monday’s regularly-scheduled Board of Education meeting.
The technological recommendations for each grade level came down to:
Elementary Schools—a SMART Board/ Interactive Touch Panel in all, as well as six iPad carts and six Chromebook carts at each site.
Intermediate Schools—a SMART Board/ Interactive Touch Panel and the ability to display device for class in all classrooms, as well as three iPad carts for each grade and a Chromebook cart for every four teachers.
Middle Schools—a projector or Interactive Touch Panel (new or replacements as needed) and ability to display device in class in all classrooms, as well as a Chromebook cart for every four teachers.
High School—a projector or Interactive Touch Panel (new or replacements as needed) and ability to display device in class in all classrooms, as well as a Chromebook cart for every four teachers.
There are 30 iPads to a cart.
The cost for all the technological devices, not including the necessary infrastructure to handle the number of devices being added, would be $1.4 million. That dollar amount also doesn’t include technology for either of the new schools, Elementary No. 8 or Intermediate No. 3.
With the addition of all the new devices, infrastructure would need to be “beefed up.” Older access points may need to be taken out, while new one are added in. The internet bandwidth would also need to be “beefed up” to handle that many devices.
The district has a total of $2,9 million for the devices, infrastructure, etc., but “it gets expensive fast.”
Devices will also need to be replaced every four to five years, years in which the district won’t have bond money to use for replacements.
Also with the addition of the new devices, professional development would be a priority to make sure all teachers are trained on how to properly use and incorporate the technology.
“We have to have professional development and infrastructure before purchasing,” Bradley said. “It’ll make things go a lot smoother in the classroom so we knew the key for success was finding the sweet spot of number of devices that meet our infrastructure needs and the professional development that trains our teachers on how to handle them.”
Board member Jeff Landrith expressed concerns about only adding iPads and Chromebooks but not getting any new PCs.
“It’s not accurate. It’s not going to prepare kids for the real world,” Landrith said.
Officials informed Landrith and other board members that the high school still has 13 computer labs and the PCs are being replaced every five years through a previous bond issue.
“We’re not getting rid of anything the district already has,” officials confirmed.
Vice President Dr. Jim Davis questioned where MPS stands compared to other 6A schools.
Officials said the front of curve would be a dangerous place to be because then they’d be dealing with technology that other people aren’t using and the need or reliability of it can’t be confirmed, but that Mustang is probably in the middle or high.
Davis and Landrith also expressed concern that teachers won’t incorporate the devices into the classroom because they already don’t use the technology the district currently has.
“As a board member, I don’t want to spend the money unless I know teachers are going to use it,” Landrith said.
Officials reiterated that’s why professional development is critical to adding the new devices so teachers feel confident and comfortable incorporating the technology into every day lessons.
Nothing related to the technology was put to a vote during Monday’s meeting, it was just part of Bradley’s bond technology update.

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