Schools to get technology boost

By Maureen Robertson

Days of students using pencils to fill in the bubbles on paper tests from the state are over.  School districts instead are preparing to use computers for the state’s new Measure of Academic Performance and Progress (MAPP) exams in the spring.

While Ramona teachers are focusing on Common Core State Standards in language arts and math, Keith Wright and his crew in the district’s Information and Education Systems department are working on a plan to upgrade technology infrastructure to increase bandwidth and prepare for wireless connections among the schools and between the district office and schools.

School trustees supported his request to spend $225,000 — or 19 percent — of the nearly $2 million the state gave

Trustees Rodger Dohm, Dawn Perfect and Bob Stoody listen to a presentation during the school board's Oct. 17 meeting. Sentinel photo/Maureen Robertson

the district to implement the new academic standards called common core.

“These changes are going to allow the teachers and the students within this district to move forward with the resources available on the Internet in a way we can’t do now,” Wright said.

None of the money will be spent on computers, said Wright, telling trustees that decisions will come later about types of devices to purchase: Chromebooks, iPads, Netbooks, laptops, or other online options available.

“What we’re talking about today is the freeway,” said Wright. “We’re not talking about the cars on the freeway. We’re looking to build that framework to allow us to grow and to grow into this common core or state testing. That’s the direction we’re going to go.”

Existing conditions do not allow teachers and students to take advantage of all the Internet devices they have.

“Right now, if a teacher wants to teach in her classroom, they have to announce, OK everybody, get out your phones and turn off your Internet, because nobody will be able to get on,” said trustee Rodger Dohm, noting the value of wireless connectivity.

“Or they get on and it’s really slow,” said Wright.

The district has a Bring Your Own Device policy and students are coming to school with iPads, laptops, smartphones and other devices, “and they should technically be able to use it on our network,” Wright said, adding “We try to discourage that because we can’t support that flood of bandwidth usage.”

The infrastructure upgrades will remedy that, he said.

“We’ve been able to move a lot of things off our network into the cloud (Internet),” he said. “The cost of that is we need bandwidth.”

The district experiences network slowness daily, particularly about 8 a.m. and 11 a.m., “because we have so much stuff going on at those times,” he said.

To make use of a San Diego State University donation of about $300,000 worth of Cisco switches, the district must spend about $30,000 for a Cisco engineer to program the switches and for cabling and other equipment, Wright said.

He estimates the cost to increase network bandwidth at $92,000, hardware costs for wireless connectivity at $61,400, and installation cost at $42,000. Installation estimates from vendors were as high as $76,000, which was more than the district wanted to spend, so employees in his department and the maintenance department will do as much of the work as they can, he said.

In his report to the board, Wright said the upgrades will prepare the district for MAPP testing in the spring, allow more mobile device use, and allow the district to take advantage of other network opportunities such as a digital phone system.

In a related vote at the meeting, trustees authorized the district to seek bids for a digital phone system.

Related posts:

  1. Ramona district outlines plans for new way of teaching
  2. State allocates $1.17 million to Ramona school district to implement Common Core
  3. Enrollment continues to drop in Ramona schools
  4. Technology in the classroom
  5. State schools chief unveils new web help for students exploring college and careers

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Posted by Maureen Robertson on Oct 23 2013. Filed under Featured Story, News, Ramona, Schools. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

6 Comments for “Schools to get technology boost”

  1. Guest

    "…students are coming to school with iPads, laptops, smartphones and other devices…." Sounds to me that teachers/administrators need to regulate use of such devices to avoid improper use while at school. A real can of worms.

  2. Gramps

    Make them stick to pencil and paper. We don't want them getting any crazy new fangled ideas off that internet thingy. Real can of worms

  3. Parent

    I supply my kids with smartphones and have been impressed with the creative ways teachers are using these devices. My kids love checking their grades, sending and receiving assignments, etc. If my kid misuses his device while at school I blame MYSELF and HIM. Not the teachers/administrators.

  4. Guest

    Trying to keep pace with technology is an expensive proposition for schools. And to think the push for this is to prepare the district for MAPP testing? Oh my!

  5. JER

    I guess a truckload of dollars really does help the useless government mandated testing medicine go down

  6. Jane Tanaka MD

    Its not about the MAPP testing. Aside from cyberbullying, hookinup friendzwithprivilidjez , and actualizing oxy purchases via paypal, this technology will more likely help, not hurt our students. Look at High Tech High in San Diego, which emphasizes team projects and hands on learning with the help of this technology. Since inception 13 years ago: Here, in summary, are some of High Tech High’s achievements to date:
    • 98% of HTH's graduates have gone on to college, with approximately 75% attending four-year programs such as Johns Hopkins University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, Olin College, Howard University, University of California at Berkeley, University of California at Los Angeles, New York University and Northwestern University.
    • About 35% of HTH graduates are first-generation college students.
    • Over 30% of HTH alumni enter math or science fields (vs. 17% national rate)
    Yes, its our tax dollars. And its a good investment. Time for RUSD to catch up. We're only a decade behind.

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