Tech committee looks into possibilities with long term plan

May 22, 2014

By Lisa Capobianco
Staff Writer
The Technology Committee has geared up for the second year of infrastructure upgrades in the school district, discussing different ways to enhance the use of devices by students and teachers.
During a recent Board of Education meeting, Karen Veilleux, the school district’s technology director, presented an update on the committee’s long-term plan, recognizing its recent accomplishments and sharing possible new concepts for next year. The committee consists of different representatives in the district, including administrators, staff, and teachers.
“Right now we’re in the process of year two of our infrastructure upgrade,” said Veilleux, adding that Southington High needs a major infrastructure upgrade. “We’re planning that out for the summer time, and that will allow us to continue to support our WiFi infrastructure and continue to expand that.”
Veilleux said one concept the Committee has discussed involves the use of a one-to-one initiative, which provides students with a device, such as a Chromebook or iPad they can use in and outside the classroom. Currently, the “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) pilot program allowed students to use their own technology in the classroom. Veilleux said the committee has examined the advantages and disadvantages of both the BYOD and one-to-one initiatives.
A subcommittee conducted a site visit to the Middle School of Plainville, which is currently in its first year of a one-to-one initiative with Google Chromebooks. A speaker from Glastonbury Public Schools also met with the committee to discuss that district’s first year using the one-to-one program with iPads.
“As a committee, we’ve been studying the differences between BYOD…and one-to-one initiatives,” Veilleux told the school board.  “There are many factors when considering the one-to-one program such as costs, insurance, repair, replacement cycles, and there are pros and cons to both BYOD and one-to one plans.”
School board member Terry Lombardi said the district should consider the possibility of using both the BYOD program and the one-to-one initiative.
“Sometimes districts look at one-on-one versus BYOD, and we need to be open that we can have a hybrid model,” Lombardi said during the meeting.
“Whichever way we go, it doesn’t may be mean we’re not going to allow e-readers into the elementary schools, so we do need policies that cover multiple options too,” added Veilleux.
Veilleux reported that the committee’s next steps involve submitting a survey to students in grades six to 11 as well as a parent survey, which will involve different questions, such as what kinds of devices they use at home and how often they use the devices.
“We’re in the process of getting ready to send out student surveys from grades six to 11 and a parent survey… to have the knowledge of where students are in technology at home and what type of devices do they have,” said Veilleux, adding that they survey will determine whether the students are able to use their devices in school.
This fall, the committee is also planning to have professional development time for teachers to learn Google Docs, and is looking to set up a mini pilot of the one-to-one initiative to provide Chromebooks to a class at the high school and at Kennedy Middle School, reported Veilleux during the meeting.
Besides the mini-pilots, Veilleux said the district’s current policies will be examined to determine possible changes. The committee is also planning more professional development opportunities for teachers with Google Docs, which allows them to access students’ work and to share documents back and forth. The committee is also in the process of receiving more contributions to SPSTeachology.org, a website that offers exclusive access to K-12 Southington teachers district-wide, allowing them to share ideas with each other.
Veilleux is scheduled to report back to the school board with recommendations in June.

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