Building a Highway to the Future

VCS-Tech-2013-1Written by Bill Moran, Director of Technology

Several years ago, many school systems embarked on a brave new concept of issuing students computing devices that students could use at school and home. This opened up a new experience for the learner. Immediate access to the world of information was just clicks away. Delivering tests and quizzes went from a several day process to less than an hour, providing educators the opportunity to analyze data to drive instruction. More time was afforded to the learner for research and collaborative classroom activities.

Many school districts discovered that the process of providing a computer for each student was not only a financial problem, but required a multilayered design with much planning and forethought. How would these devices be used in the classroom and home? How would assessments be delivered? How would curriculum be delivered? What ethical and moral issues are there to resolve before a student is allowed to use a device? What infrastructure must be in place for the successful use of a large number of devices concurrently? What support resources are required to successfully support such an effort. How will the devices be purchased and maintained? Finally, what funding sources will be available to sustain such a program?

VCS-Tech-2013-3Recently, a committee of teachers and administrators were formed to plan the future of technology at Valparaiso Community Schools. The first task at hand was to develop a Technology Curriculum based upon national technology standards. The work of this group was the cornerstone of a foundation that will eventually support a multifaceted and rich digital learning environment. A paperless digital curriculum coupled with the means to deliver online instruction will form the road on which we will drive future instruction at Valparaiso Community Schools.

In addition a professional development program is being designed that will allow for targeted staff development, while creating standards based lessons that will also provide opportunities to become competitive 21st Century learners.

VCS-Tech-2013-4The next step in this process will be the selection of the vehicle. Will it be an iPad, MacBook, Windows based laptop or a Chromebook? As our committee continues to fine tune the curriculum and evaluate software and instructional management systems, the selection of the delivery vehicle (student device) will come into clear focus. We are grateful to the Valparaiso Redevelopment Commission's continued support through the Education Challenge Grant. Last year VCS was the beneficiary of $349,837.00 through the Education Challenge Grant which was used to purchase iPads, MacBooks, laptops and Chromebooks. These devices are being used in classrooms across the district at VHS, both middle schools and all eight elementary schools as a part of a study that will help the selection of the new student device. With these devices we are able to create a one to one (computer to student) environment in several classrooms across the district. In the near future the new road to a rich and exciting learning environment will be paved and ready for travel by every child attending Valparaiso Community Schools.