County Schools Working To Close Technology Gap

Thursday, December 20, 2012

County School officials said Thursday they are working on several fronts to close the technology gap, but face funding and other issues.

The school board was told it would take $1 million to provide enough bandwidth to support a "one-on-one" - one tablet or IPad for each student.

Patty Kinsey, IT director, said the county school system wants to get to "three-on-one" but is not there yet.

But Supt. Rick Smith said teachers and administrators still must learn how to most effectively use all the rapidly developing new technologies. He said, "It would be a mistake to dump 42,000 IPads on the school system right now."

However, he said the school system at Huntsville, Ala., has invested in an IPad for every student.

The board was told that online assessments of students is coming so the school system needs enough devices for that. Ms. Kinsey said officials were first told that IPads could not be used for such testing,  but now has been told that they could.

Supt. Smith said school policies and even state laws may need to be changed to deal with the new technology. For example, he said schools have policies on IPhones at school. But he said IPhones can have many educational uses.

The board was also told that online assessments are already proving effective for helping tell strengths and weaknesses of students on various subjects.

Board member Rhonda Thurman said with such assessments due to technology the school system may be able to trim some staff who have been involved in those duties.

She also cautioned about sinking large amounts of money into certain technologies that quickly may be outmoded.

And she said with the advance of online learning "we may wind up with some empty school buildings."

Supt. Smith said businesses have shown a strong interest in helping the schools prepare for the new technologies. And he said various grant opportunities are being explored.

To view the Technology Presentation by Ms. Kinsey to the Board of Education, click here.


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