Everyone is glad that Gary Smith “just with us.” Welcome back, and all that. What does that mean? Was there a life-threatening incident here?
Gary’s talking about network upgrades like at West High which cost $1 million and they’ve got a grant for Highland. The district has struggled with homework folders so kids can access work from home. They’re looking at tools like Sharepoint and Googledocs, which opens up the world more than they want, and stuff that shows promise, but frankly, it all just scares them. Microsoft Light.edu may be more narrow than they want. How could that be?
Oh dear, they’re also strained by nonstandard devices (you know – iPads and SmartPhones) because they think they’ll need a whole support staff. And what about students bringing their own devices and connecting wirelessly, but uh, they a worried about viruses.
Board member Heather Bennett just wants to be able to connect to Google during meetings since she has to use her phone instead. Heather wants to get on the district website, but can’t. Board member Doug Nelson says nine years ago everything was very hardware-oriented. And ooo things are so complex now. Heather says its harder but more important.
Gary says its really about connectivity and the district hasn’t done a good job. How do you keep kids (and maybe teachers) away from those negative influences? Maybe you shouldn’t because teachers feel pretty danged restricted in the present environment. Gary says they allow teachers to go more places than students. How nice.
Google counts over 1 billion sites, and if you’re a control freak, filtering technology is always a challenge.
How loose do we become? That was the question. Doug says at some point you have to open up enough so people can get in trouble with a capital T and then get in trouble for that. We can just make a reasonable effort and have penalties.
On that note, Superintendent McKell Withers notes that a majority of educator license revocations in the state are for internet violations. Wow.
Heather says she hears frustration from teachers who are dealing with all this arcane technology. This is not going to get better, but worse. Gary’s talking about the old days when he wrote code. He’s not sure how they do anything anymore, especially with 1,400 teachers using a system. Now they’re talking about apps. Gary doesnt have any answers about how to stay ahead of the curve – you know, the creativity curve.
Board member Rosemary Emery says school websites aren’t up-to-date, but that’s because each school is responsible for its own site. The district just kind of helps out. They use something called Contribute so a team can be updating their websites instead of just one person. They’re just figuring this out?
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