Recently I was asked for my opinion on instructional technology and financial management in the district I work.
Following are two of the questions asked.
- How is the district using instructional technology to reach the goals of improving student learning?
The Valley Center school district is fortunate to have people and resources in place to meet the needs of students in technology infused learning environments. The district has a variety of technology devices that are designed to meet a variety of student needs. The infrastructure necessary to support both wired and wireless devices is up and running well. Valley Center has the leadership necessary to continue with building up the wireless network, acquiring more bandwidth to support necessary Internet connectivity and allow for 21st century communication. There are Curriculum coordinators and a technology integration specialist available to provide the necessary professional development for guiding teachers in integrating technology successfully.
Utilizing interactive white boards, sound systems and projectors students are exposed to a variety of learning opportunities in both large group and small group instruction. Some classrooms are equipped with netbook laptops or laptop carts that can be checked out. Each building has at least one computer lab that teachers can schedule time in. There are a few mobile device pilots going on within the district to study the effectiveness of using mobile devices as learning tools.
No matter how wonderful the tool or device is it still needs programs or applications to make an impact on student learning. The Valley Center school district has implemented Google Apps for Education, allowed Facebook, Twitter and other social networking/communication applications as well as a plethora of web-based resources like Education City, Discovery Education and Everyday Math Online.
With all these 21st century tools available and the leadership of building principals, technology department staff and district leadership Valley Center is ready to support the needs of all students in their learning to love to learn!
- What are some financial and management issues with implementation and what are some suggestions for addressing them?
With any educational program there are costs and when technology is involved those costs can be substantial. Technology integration of any kind requires a well thought out plan for purchasing, rolling out and maintaining the devices. Even though planning for the future of technology is a moving target it’s important that planning does occur with the understanding that plans can and do change.
The Valley Center school district uses the technology plan that’s rewritten every three years to help guide implementation and budgeting for future purchases. The business office has procedures in place for bidding, board approval and purchasing technology equipment. The technology department has strategies in place for distributing and implementing new and updated technology equipment.
Collaboration between the Valley Center staff is what makes all the procedures, strategies and plans come together. Beginning with a wish list of technology equipment and training opportunities the district technology director then prioritizes the list starting with district critical/necessary items and goes from there. Once a list is made and prioritized then it is plugged into the established budget. As the year goes the priority list and budget are adjusted to fit necessary expenditures.