District strives to adapt to changing tech needs

Cedar Falls schools are looking to to initiate changes in current classroom technologies. Right now, the plan from the district perspective is that each room has a staff computer and projector. Progressively, all newly renovated rooms throughout the district will also include a classroom audio and microphone setup. Rooms will have a redesigned teaching station to house current and future technology equipment, but will also allow the teachers more desk space.

Currently, some nearby school districts use a one-to-one initiative. This is the process of a district furnishing one electronic device per student. Most of these plans allow the student to take the device home as well. Another program that some districts use is BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). This model is quickly becoming the standard in business and is pushing its way into education.

With this plan, students bring their own equipment to learn on, and for those who don’t already have a device, the district will furnish one to the student. The Cedar Falls tech services have contemplated both.

“In respect to equipment, the district is neither for or against a 1:1 program or a BYOD  program. The reality is that we will most likely see facets of both in more of a blended environment in the future. Classrooms all have different needs when it comes to technology; one single type or brand of device will not always cover everything. In addition, students have different preferences when it comes to learning with technology. One student may favor a laptop, another a pad device, while another may feel most comfortable doing everything on a smart phone,” said Shane Paige, the district tech supervisor.

This summer, 65 access points will be installed at the high school. This wireless network upgrade marks the completion of a district wide initiative to update wireless access throughout all buildings. These access points give a better connection to the  wireless network with little to no dead spots. This will also support the mobile platform which all staff will be on after the upgrade of staff and administrator machines to laptops next fall. Access to the network will be universal across the district. If you connect at one building, you can connect in all. Students can authenticate to a new student wireless network with personal devices as well.

“The current goal is to continue work on developing a district plan that keeps the focus on the student learning environment.  Designing a plan that focuses on the curriculum and universal content delivery first rather than the device will ultimately be more successful,” Paige said.

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