NOTE: This is the executive summary only; links to detailed pages are dead.
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Why We Should Make Technology A Top Priority
The Poughkeepsie City School District Technology Plan approved by the Board of Education last year asserts that:
- technology can support each child's attaining high levels of academic performance;
- technology can provide academic, recreational and therapeutic means to insure that each child demonstrates social and emotional growth and development;
- through technology students gain access to diverse and empowering experiences they might otherwise not have;
- As a result of the applications of technology in the previously identified categories, we will be able to insure that each child reaches his/her unique potential.
The Central Strategy of the Implementation Plan
Any widespread infusion of technology should be linked to instruction and achievement of state standards. A program of exposure, training, modeling and enculturation is the glue that holds together the individual successes of projects and the global initiative of a district plan. Both "bottom-up" project development and "top-down" curriculum reform can work together to prepare Poughkeepsie to make appropriate use of the significant technology infusion called for in the Technology Plan. Cultural readiness needs to be established before technology is purchased.
Matching Goals to Technologies
To address the importance of full integration of networked information systems into the life and work of PCSD, the Technology Plan is designed to meet the following specific needs (as well as others), in the following ways:
"1.We need to improve student access to technology throughout all facets of the educational program and beyond the school doors." This can be accomplished through buildingwide local area networks linking computers and the Internet in all classrooms and work spaces.
"2.We need to improve the organization of available technology so that it can best be used to maximize student engaged learning and involve students in collaborative projects." This can be accomplished through more levels of technical support and coordination (Network Administrators, Technician/Trainers, Technology Turnkey Trainers, Full-Time Computer Teachers, Tech Scouts, and Building Level Technology Planning Teams).
"3.We need to improve the inter-operability of technology available to students by making data exchange among diverse technologies and formats possible, allowing users to access third party hardware/software and insuring that access is transparent." This can be accomplished through the buildingwide networks, which make file sharing between Macintosh and P.C. transparent, and can be supported through a Web-based District Intranet.
"4.We need to provide age appropriate technology across grade levels as well as vertically that will offer learning opportunities that stimulate thought and inquiry, provide students access to simulations and real world learning, allow multiple points of entry and provide different types of information." This can be accomplished through an engaged and financially empowered District Technology PlanningCommittee made up of representatives from engaged and financially empowered Building Level Technology Planning Teams.
As Specified in the Technology Plan
"The technologies to be acquired in support of these goals are identified throughout the plan.... [and] will be implemented with integrated district-wide and site-based delivery priories. The first priority (Phase I) will be to establish a basic core of technology common to all buildings and work sites. The second priority (phase II) will be to generate site-based delivery options to allow each location to address the unique mix of students and staff at the building."
Current Phase One Objectives (condensed):
Every school will be provided with:
- A local area network (LAN) for data and Internet distribution as well as communication., with connection to the districts voice and data network (WAN), thereby allowing for access to the network from any classroom, office or networked work station in the District.
- Network computers equipped with management, communications and application software in all classrooms.
- An electronic card catalog (OPAC) accessible to students in the library with optional access for all networked work stations.
- Upgraded Labs able to access LAN from all stations.
- Software programs are closely aligned with curricular objectives that provide uniform experiences for teachers and students.
Current Phase II Objectives:
Every school will be provided with:
- At least one computer lab which will be able to provide individual access for each student within the parameters of the largest class, with larger schools being provided with multiple labs if requested in building plan.
- Clusters of classroom computers on an as-need basis determined by the school technology team and driven by the curriculum.
- Portable computer devices for take home assignments and other uses within the school (ie: science experiments).
Phases One and Two, Simplified:
|Phase One (Buildingwide Parity)||Phase Two (Targeted Enhancements)
For Each School:
|Each Building Gets "Wired" (A Local Area Network)||One 1:1 Student/Computer Lab|
|Every Classroom Gets a Computer With A LAN/Internet Connection||"Cadre" System: Computers on Carts for Classroom Clusters|
|Every Lab and Library is Connectedto the District Network||Bank of Portables (Laptops/Powerbooks) for Field Work|
|Software Integrating Technology into the Curriculum Is Purchased|
A. Phase One, Year 1: High School Wired in Summer, 2000 with T-1 Access; PMS obtain ISDN access
Our E-Rate award this year is sufficient only to wire one building. The principle of "working downward" has already been identified for the School Construction proposal -- meaning that high school students should get upgraded facilities before middle school students do, to avoid "disillusion" as students enter 9th grade. In line with this principle, the high school should be wired before any other schools, particularly as it is currently behind the middle school in computer infrastructure. Wiring one school only will give the District and whichever vendor is chosen to perform the work an opportunity to test the process and refine it, making more accurate estimates of time and issues as more buildings are wired.
The following summer wiring schedule is proposed for Phase One. Moving forward, the District will be awarded increasing levels of funding through E-Rate, permitting wider scope of wiring. (In the event any school construction is approved, wiring would be completed as part of that job, even if it were to be scheduled at a different time below.)
B. Phase One, Year 2: Middle School To Be Wired in Summer, 2001 with T-1 Access; Smith, Warring and Krieger obtain ISDN access
C. Phase One, Year 3-4: All Elementary Schools Wired with T-1 Access.
Incremental Deployment Recommended
Although Phase 1 calls for "a computer in every classroom", it is often unwise to purchase computers before they are ready to be used by all staff. If a computer can be said to support current software for three years, then purchasing a computer a year before a teacher is prepared to use it will result in a 33% loss of value. This is the most common error made by district-driven technology plans, and often results in community reluctance to continue investment when images of dormant, dusty machines hit the newsstands. In light of this consideration, each building's technology planning team should determine whether or not faculty is ready to move ahead as a unit, or whether to install computers on a grade-by-grade (or even teacher-by-teacher) level. At the point where buildingwide deployment has been reached, the building can be said to have completed Phase One. In the meantime, it is recommended that buildings NOT outfit all classrooms at once, even after they are wired.
Targeted Enhancement before Buildingwide Parity
While a school building could conceivably be fully wired and connected within a summer's time, the task of readying all faculty and support staff for the installation, configuration and use of computers on a daily basis is less tidy. On the other hand, all district buildings house teachers who are well ahead of their peers, and who would be well supported by the items listed in Phase II (a lab with a 1:1 student:computer ratio, loanable rolling-cart computer clusters (a.k.a. "Cadres"), and a bank of portable computers for fieldwork or home use. An immediate need for all three of these objectives exists in all buildings; those which currently have some in place are establishing unnecessary inequities for students in other schools
It is therefore recommended that Phase II precede Phase I as expectations for each building, and as targets for building-level technology planning. However, the funding necessary even for this level of implementation is far above what is currently available to building budgets. A supplemental allocation for the 2000-2001 school year to establish Phase II parity in all buildings would be a worthy and appropriate first step toward implementing the District Technology Plan in an equitable manner. In short, it is proposed that all buildings be Phase II compliant before Phase I is complete in any. To eliminate confusion from now on, Phase II will be referred to as "Targeted Enhancement" and Phase One "Buildingwide Parity."
Bottom Up + Top Down + Support
In any organization, there are different levels of readiness for new methods and practices. The move toward adoption of new practices is a process termed "acculturation," and the levels in this process were given labels which are commonplace today by William Geoghan of IBM a decade ago. At the front line of adoption of technology he placed the Pioneers, those who will struggle with the new and challenging regardless of the level of support or peer involvement available. Following these are the Early Adopters, who watch and, when ready, adapt what they've seen working to their own settings. "Mainstream" individuals change when the majority of those around them appear to be changing as well, following the group norms. Lastly are those who are currently unconvinced of the value of classroom computing for their professional practice and will need special attention.
As the above discussion of incremental phasing and acculturation indicate, the move to districtwide technology integration will not be accomplished all-at-once by a well-crafted paper document and a massive infusion of funding. A Top-down initiative to infuse technology into the life of our school system should occur in conjunction with the Bottom-up readying of staff for the management and use of that technology, and with a commensurate increase in the degree of technical Support available for teachers as they afford themselves of these opportunities.
9. CHOICE: Steady Growth or Accelerated Growth
These efforts are creating the degree of cultural readiness needed to maximize the impact and cost-effectiveness of district expenditures on hardware and networking which have been planned for subsequent years; however, they require additional resources to remain effective as technology use levels increase. We have planted and fertilized our gardens, but much more tending is needed for the seedlings to grow. There are significant choices to be made in levels of funding for next year, depending on the pace of change and level of educational opportunity the district is prepared to commit to. After such an examination, two basic choices are proposed for the upcoming budget year:
- Steady Growth: Increased funding to cover existing levels of technology integration growth (submitted as part of the proposed budget). Most critical is the need for changes in the job descriptions of our technical staff. They are currently performing critical tasks and acquiring training for additional ones that are not covered by civil service job descriptions.
- Accelerated Growth: Significantly increased funding to encourage rapid acculturation throughout the district, to wire PHS, and to prepare "Targeted Enhancement" (Labs, Clusters, and Portables) in all buildings by 2001-2002.