Technology in USD #339

It has been said that “change is the only constant in life”, and as I reflect on the changes in technology over the years, I believe that the speed of the changes should also be added into that quote. The changes in my lifetime are huge, and are even more dramatic when considering the changes in the availability (and abilities) of technology for our students as they progress from K through 12.

In our storage area we have samples of the computers that the schools have used over the last (almost) four decades. We have an Apple IIe (1983), a Mac Plus (1986), a eMate (1997, precursor to the iPad), and more! We have gone from full-sized desktop computers with 9” monitors to iPads/phones and watches that have more computing power than all the previously mentioned computers combined! In education, our goal must be to embrace this new technology and teach the students how to effectively use it.

It is with this in mind that we support a 24/7 iPad initiative at the high school. When a student joins us as a freshman, they receive an iPad that they will use until graduation. Our teachers “push out” assignments to their students, students perform work on their devices, they use them for research, and the devices are (for the most part) integrated into their lives. Another goal is to teach them to manage their device-use time so that when they graduate they should have the ability to know when to turn it off, and focus on other life activities.

As far as numbers, the high school device to student ratio is greater than one to one (we still have a computer lab in addition to each student having an iPad). At the elementary, each grade level has a lab (cart) of 20 iPads. The middle level has two iPad carts. In addition, there is a mobile computer lab that can be rolled into a classroom if a computer is a more appropriate tool. Over-all, the student to device ratio is 1.6:1.

As far as the network is concerned, we have a 1GB fiber internet connection at the high school which we are able to “beam” to the ems via antennas. Each building has access points (aps) in almost every classroom, so one can get a signal in almost any location (within the building). I’d like to say that the speed is more than sufficient, but I’d have to point you back to the first sentence.