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Articles: Technology

Districts in the area covered by the LEARN Regional Educational Service Center in southeastern Connecticut for the past four years have boosted their ability to save money on bulk technology purchases through online reverse auctions. Such auctions are designed so that vendors try to out-lowball one another to get the job in school districts.

County, regional and statewide education service centers that provide shared purchasing power and technical support have been around for as long as a half-century, and some have helped districts gain lower prices on technology through economies of scale since the heyday of the Apple II. But the combination of tighter-than-ever budgets and greater-than-ever needs for computing and other leading-edge technology has made the opportunities that education service centers provide all the more valuable in the past three years.

On a district-wide professional development day, a consultant presents to an auditorium of 250 teachers and conducts follow-up sessions with smaller groups throughout the day. The event is chock-full of information, and the teachers feel good about the resources and skills they have learned. The consultant departs at the end of the day knowing she has done her job. However, the teachers do not get the time to reflect and practice the skills learned, and their excitement about the new information soon wanes.

Technology may have, at last, caught up with the intentions of balanced assessments—or at least it has in the Douglas County (Colo.) School District, according to Syna Morgan, the district’s executive director of performance and accountability. Already a high-performing district with 62,000 students across 86 schools, Douglas County wanted to take its assessment data to the next level by making students not only college-bound, but global leaders.

Paul Romero, CIO of Rio Rancho (N.M.) Public School District, underlines the importance of constant communication with his superintendent, IT staff and principals for his district’s success. Romero has been with the district, which is 20 miles north of Albuquerque with 15,000 students across 19 schools, for four years, but he has served in other districts in different capacities, including teaching. Romero believes that his firsthand knowledge of what goes on inside the classroom enables him and his team to tackle any IT problem, large or small.

Videogames, as opposed to cell phones, the Internet, or computers, proved to increase creativity among children, according to a new study conducted by researchers at Michigan State University.

The transition from middle school to high school can often be daunting; however, students in Memphis City (Tenn.) Schools have found that Gaggle, which provides online learning tools, can help ease this changeover with its social media features.

A three-year program launched this past September by Microsoft will ensure that 1 million students from low-income families in the United States receive software, hardware and discounted broadband Internet service at home. It’s the “digital inclusion” arm of Shape the Future. Shape the Future makes it possible for anyone to have access to 21st-century tools, regardless of their ability to afford it, according to Dan McFetridge, business development director of the Shape the Future program at Microsoft.

In just four short years, the steering committee of the International Society for Technology in Education’s (ISTE) Special Interest Group for Mobile Learning has expanded from a mere six members to 33, and the group itself now has over 3,000 members, according to Elliot Soloway, chairman of the group and professor at the University of Michigan.

Computing technologies have profoundly transformed just about every major organization and field of human endeavor. To take just two examples, Apple is the largest distributor of music in the world, and manufacturing and surgery are the province of robots, not humans.

But K12 still relies on textbooks and pencil pouches. Why have computing technologies failed to transform K12? Here are our 10 barriers to technology adoption.

In 2007, a three-school district in New Hampshire started to see the first signs that its technology infrastructure was just too small for the equipment it had purchased. With 1,600 students and 300 staff members, the SAU 27-Litchfield (N.H.) School District was struggling to keep up with the increasing demands on its outdated network—from employee email, to online student testing, to multimedia applications.

11/2011 to 01/2012

Continuous training is vital to the success of any district information technology plan, because, unlike large corporations, districts don’t have specialized information technology personnel, says Dwayne Alton, director of information technology support at Lee County Public Schools in Florida.

There has been talk of a backlash with education technology. The New York Times published an article recently implying that technology in the classroom does not work, and then another on how some well-known Silicon Valley gurus prefer having their children learn by performing hands-on tasks rather than using high-tech tools in the classroom.

Lee County Public Schools in Fort Myers, Fla., performed a full migration of its data center, complete with new storage solutions, more than three years ago. With a $500,000 budget for the conversion—one-third of what surrounding districts had spent for similar initiatives—Lee County couldn’t afford bells and whistles.