IUSD board members on Tuesday approved the first reading of a three-year Technology Master Plan detailing the district’s goals for leveraging technology to improve student outcomes.
Chief Technology Officer Brianne Ford led a comprehensive presentation on the document, which outlines current technology use, instructional objectives, staff development, infrastructure needs, costs and ongoing oversight. Guided by a 32-member steering committee, the plan, which has been in development since May 2012 and has already been shared with district leaders, post-secondary institutions and business leaders.
Specific curriculum goals are accompanied by measurable benchmarks and address the use of collaborative classroom tools, as well as problem-solving techniques, presentation skills, complex analysis and responsible use. Kris Linville, IUSD’s educational technology coordinator, said these goals were designed to align with another important document — IUSD’s Continuous Improvement Efforts, which outlines essential capacities for students and staff.
“As you go through the tech plan, you’ll notice that the essential capacities are reflected in all of the goals,” he said.
Linville added that professional learning is also embedded in the plan, ensuring teachers and staff will be capable and comfortable using 21st century tools.
While district leaders have acknowledged that technology will never take the place of great classroom teaching, there’s no doubt that its reach is expanding exponentially, requiring college students and career-seekers to possess a broader technological skill set. Meanwhile, schools and districts across the nation are utilizing web-based innovations to make the work of educators and support staff more efficient and effective.
Still, IUSD has some infrastructure obstacles to overcome if it hopes to realize its technological ambitions. Marty Danko, director of information services, told board members that the district’s data center is underpowered and network bandwidth is insufficient to support modern teaching and learning. Out at the school sites, he said, the majority of cabling is more than 17 years old, and most of the hardware is at least eight years old. Wireless equipment is also aging and unable to support current bandwidth needs.
IUSD has an ongoing technology budget of approximately $5 million, or about $160 per student. Upgrades, Ford said, will require additional resources.
The board is expected to approve a second reading and adoption of the tech plan at its December meeting. A technology steering committee — this group will comprise teachers, administrators, support staff, parents, students, business leaders and post-secondary partners — will ultimately be responsible for implementing and monitoring the plan, meeting quarterly starting in February 2014.