Technology experts look at county’s future

May 17, 2012 (The Register-Herald – McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) —
Technology experts from Raleigh County Schools spoke to the Raleigh County Board of Education last week, updating members on technology integration progress, new website launching and the county’s future in technology.

Mary Ann Foster, technology coordinator for Raleigh County Schools, said she feels the one-to-one computing project at Trap Hill Middle School was successful.

Each student at Trap Hill Middle was given a laptop in September for school use.

“We feel like students, faculty and administrators believe the pilot was successful. We feel like they have become 21st century learners,” she said.

During the pilot, the computers have aided classrooms in student-centered learning and teachers’ attitudes toward the use of technology in the classroom have changed, she said.

Foster did say the students were not allowed to take the laptops home although the school first thought students would after an initial period.

She explained the decision was left to the administration and they worried about students not bringing them back each day for class.

Foster also said more technology would be provided for Liberty High School so that students used to instruction with technology would continue to have access to equipment.

Across the county, technology has increase in schools this year, with nearly 300 student computers and 45 teacher computers added on the elementary level and more than 600 student computers and 28 teacher computers on the secondary level.

More than $270,000 was spend to boost wireless infrastructure at Independence, Liberty, Shady and Woodrow Wilson high schools and Shady Spring Middle School, she added.

“We are in good shape in terms of student and teacher computers. Right now we have about 3:1 students to computers at the elementary level and 2:1 on the secondary level,” she continued.

In addition, the county has four technology integration specialists.

“They stay late and work after school. They are really good people and the teachers and students love them. I would love to be able to have one at every school, if the state would help us with that funding,” shared Foster.

The school also updated its website through Edline and each school now has its own current website and the county website is being updated as often as possible, she said.

Foster said they hope to put in place a Parent Notification System for the fall.

Board President Richard Snuffer commented, “This board wanted a notification system this year. It is definitely something we want next year.”

They plan on placing bids for the system and hope to have one in place to notify parents via e-mail, text or phone call as needed.

Next year Foster plans on seeing more iPad training for special education teachers who received a grant to use the devices in their classrooms and more technology training in general.

She also plans for there to be more cyberbullying lessons for students and training for teachers.

Foster also noted that next year the county and state are adopting an e-book for social studies and a science e-book is not too far in the future.

Board member Cynthia Jafary asked about e-book adoption and logistics.

“We are going to have to start looking at the technology like we would a textbook. We would never prevent a student from taking a book home and we are going to have to think about computers differently,” she said.

Board member Richard Jarrell added, “The e-books sound sexy and 21st century, but there is a lot of logistics to work out.”

Jeff Webb, network administrator for the county, reported his department completed 2,100 work orders at Trap Hill Middle and 5,600 in all.

The county has 10,000 PC computers and 1,900 new pieces of equipment across the school system.

This year they ethically recycled 1,700 pieces of equipment and updated all digital surveillance systems with new IP cameras, enabling them to record data for much longer periods of time, he said.

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