County School Officials Want Every Child, Teacher, Administrator To Be Equipped With An IPad

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Hamilton County Board of Education has a goal of equipping all schools with 300 mgs of wireless Internet access by next year in order to integrate iPads in the education process. 

Plans to accomplish this were presented to the board at a meeting of the technology committee Friday morning, led by Patty Kinsey, business systems analyst, and Superintendent Rick Smith.

This means that 53 buildings will have the capability to support the “1-1 Initiative,” so that every child, teacher and administrator will have an iPad on which to work. In order to do this, three things must happen. The infrastructure must be in place with all buildings wired with access points to support the large number of mobile devices. Teachers must be educated to use the tablets and equipment must be made available for every student.

The board considers the most important of the three elements to be professional development, because having equipment means nothing if it is not used effectively. “Technology is never going to be able to educate people” said Jonathan Welch, chairman of the board's technology committee. 

Money in the form of a grant from the state of Tennessee was awarded to Hamilton County to beef up the infrastructure. The $1,392,000 received this year is currently being used for wiring the buildings to provide the access points. Paying for the bandwidth itself comes out of the general purpose budget for technology, not state funds.

It was explained that the 300 mg bandwidth that is needed can enter the building, but the access points must be accessible in order to make connections to operate each mobile device. Four temporary contract workers will be hired to expedite the work so it will be complete in all schools by June 30, 2014.

The least important component is obtaining the actual mobile devices. Price and technology change, it was stated. The tablets now being used are iPads, but there are multiple platforms that are less costly. Also, Superintendent Smith sees this factor as being a community responsibility. His vision is that the devices be contributed by those in the community that are able. As of now, the Rotary Club, the Benwood Foundation and Public Education Foundation have each committed to provide funding for some of the devices being used in I-Zone schools. The estimate is that about $500 is needed per student for other organizations to sponsor the effort. No student can be left behind - there must be a way to get tablets for each one to use, it was stated.

Another consideration is that some students will bring their own devices to school. Concerns with this include protecting the network, and the matter of discipline and lack of control, since a user would be able to leave the school’s network and get onto their own. Also, there is the problem of how a teacher would handle a room when there are many different devices in use. There are no answers as of now for these issues.

Another hurdle, said Mr. Smith, is that each student needs to be connected at home. Providers like Comcast and EPB have been included in conversations, he said. As an example, the school system negotiated with Comcast to provide home service to the 150 students at the STEM school. He said 20,000 kids would go home without having a connection in Hamilton County so the providers need to be involved in discussion of ideas such as a “community cloud.”

Students will have access to the same information that is available to educators, researchers and professionals. The goal is to provide education in a manner where a child can access information and the teachers can facilitate it. A systematic procedure of testing effectiveness is to begin this year with devices and completed infrastructure placed in specific grades in six schools. The teachers in these groups have all been prepared. These schools are Red Bank Elementary, Middle and High, Calvin Donaldson Elementary, East Lake Academy and Howard High. Huntsville, Ala., was cited as an example of recently converting to this teaching mode. It was concluded that although the networking had been done, there was not enough preparation before putting it into practice and that the teachers were not ready.

The Hamilton County Board of Education wants to implement the 1-1 Initiative slowly so that it is manageable and successful. This year a writing assessment will be done online for the fifth, eighth and 11th grades, so the new system will need to be in place. However, said Mr. Smith, converting to this style of teaching is not a “testing issue.” It will be used for day to day teaching. “In two years, you’ll be behind if you are not on 1-1,” he told the board.

To pay for this transformation, the board of education is attempting to “turn pennies into dollars,” said Christie Jordan, director of accounting and budgeting. There are many ways this is being done, such as buying new iPads for principals, teachers and administrators , and updating servers at the schools which will save the cost of  maintenance contracts. She also said that federal funds are available in the form of grants for schools that have a 90 percent poverty level. Hamilton County has 21 schools that will qualify. This federal money will free up money that comes from the state.





 


New Hiener Book Of Historic Chattanooga Photos Available At Zarzours

The new Paul Hiener Historic Chattanooga Photos book published by Chattanoogan.com is available at Zarzours Restaurant. Zarzours is located on the Southside on Rossville Avenue behind the Main Street Fire Hall #1. Mr. Hiener, a longtime Chattanooga printer and lifelong resident, collected over 3,000 historic pictures of his beloved hometown. He made some of the photos ... (click for more)

Former Nashville Councilman Announces Bid For Chair Of The Tennessee Democratic Party

Jamie D. Isabel, Sr. former Nashville City Councilman and a former member of the Tennessee Democratic executive committee, announces his intent to run for chairman of the Tennessee Democratic party.   Over the last two weeks he has contacted the 66 members of the Executive Committee for their support.   "Mr. Isabel is enthusiastically presenting his plans to rebuild ... (click for more)

Vehicle Emissions Testing Causes More Pollution Than It Prevents - And Response

While a noble cause to make sure vehicles are operating efficiently with the minimum amount of pollutants, a simple analysis makes it somewhat evident the VET program in Chattanooga causes more pollution that it prevents.  Though I don't know how many vehicles are tested on an annual basis, if you assume an average round trip of 10 miles to the nearest testing station (five ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: You Can’t Sue You

The Hamilton County School Board will convene an hour earlier tomorrow to discuss “facilities” and the question of the hour is “Which ones?” Several communities are actively studying pulling away from the county’s Department of Education and the stew is thickening by the day. Now comes the revelation that school board attorney Scott Bennett has sent an email to the town of Signal ... (click for more)

Top-Ranked Bradley Uses Fast Start To Beat Baylor

There’s no question that the Bradley Bears are ranked first in the initial state wrestling poll and they proved they deserve to be in that top spot following a 43-30 victory over the Baylor Red Raiders. Baylor is ranked fourth in that first poll and will surely be a force to be reckoned with in Division II as the season progresses, but the Bears are head and shoulders ahead after ... (click for more)

Run-And-Gun Tyner Shoots Down Red Bank 71-33

Tyner opponents better batten down the hatches if the Rams ever iron out their half-court offensive struggles. Even without that weapon showing up Tuesday night, the Rams showed they have a run-and-gun assault that can bury an opponent under an avalanche of points. And their defense is as tenacious as ever. Tyner outscored Red Bank 15-0 to start the second quarter ... (click for more)