The Board of Education passed a new $1.7 million technology plan for the district at the Board meeting on Monday, April 13. This is a long-awaited improvement, but the district still needs to implement more changes to allow maximum efficiency for students and staff.
This plan includes 3,300 pieces of equipment for all schools in the district. Technology bought consists of standard and advanced desktops and laptops, as well as iPads. Mill Valley will receive a bulk of this technology, including 12 new standard desktops and 456 new advanced laptops. Only elementary schools will receive iPads.
The present laptops hinder classes, shortening the time for test taking and other tasks performed in a block. More desktop purchases are necessary to replace ones in the library, science and business classrooms, as they are slow, once again taking time from class. While the new laptops are meant to serve every one in four students, more laptops should be purchased in order to allow students maximum access to them, avoiding the occasional double-booking on computer carts that occur.
Student computers in the district are approximately eight years old, so an update is due. Under the current plan, the district intends to replace the technology every four years. As long as the Board sticks to the plan, it will ensure that technology will stay up-to-date.
The relatively low purchase of desktops, as well as the proposed 4:1 laptop policy, could be the result of the amount of students using the Bring Your Own Device policy. With BYOD, students can bring their own technology to work on for school purposes. According to the technology report, about 1,400 students use BYOD.
However, there are still changes that need to be made in order for outside devices to work at maximum capacity. Although the Wi-Fi is a helpful step in working with personal computers, smartphones or tablets, the system often does not connect or is too slow. Improvements on the network infrastructure of the school are necessary for easier access to online school resources such as Blackboard.
Students and teachers of other school districts, such as Shawnee Mission, receive far better technology for schoolwork, such as MacBooks and iPad Airs, through a 1:1 technology policy (in which each student and teacher gets his or her own laptop or tablet for school work). This is a popular measure that could be incorporated into the district, given the availability of funding.
The new technology plan is a necessary step in advancing the current outdated technology. The district, however, does not need to stop there. Taking into account these suggestions, the district will both save money and provide an interactive learning environment for the students.