With the adoption of our five-year Strategic Technology Plan by School Committee this past June, the Educational Technology Department, in conjunction with teachers, administration, and the community, created a plan, serving as a roadmap for integrating digital learning. The Educational Technology Department continues to believe that technology will transform learning when it’s used in alignment with rigorous curriculum standards. Integrating educational technology into classrooms and lessons is essential to providing a quality education and we continue to support this ideal.
Working with district asset and networking inventories, it is now possible to predict and prepare for the replacement of aging technology. During FY 2017, improvements aimed at continued support of infrastructure and replacement of teacher and student devices occurred. With the adoption of a replacement cycle, outlined in the strategic technology plan, we will continue to provide equitable access in support of teaching and digital learning. Some of the major improvements to hardware and infrastructure include:
• Over 35 teachers received brand new, replacement Lenovo laptops to support daily educational instruction
• Over 200 Google Chromebook laptops were added into the various schools based on need, as these devices continue to be highly effective teaching tools because of their simple-to-use, easy-to-manage approach
• Replacement of two Google Chromebox computer labs in the middle school libraries
• One networking closet at the High School was outfitted with modern switching equipment, increasing data to the upper floor of one wing
• Over 30 classrooms at Swallow Union, Florence Roche and at the Middle School were outfitted with wall mounted, interactive short throw projectors
The GDRSD Digital Portfolio System (portfolio.gdrsd.org) was completed, adding code and design elements to support access on mobile devices and also added the ability for students to use their Google Apps for Education account for single sign on (SSO) access to their digital portfolio page. The GDRSD Digital Portfolio System allows each student in the district to have their own, public facing digital portfolio site, empowering each child to create and reflect as well as have an open dialogue with classmates and teachers about themselves as learners.
For FY 2017, the computer support staff ratio to district computers continues to operate well-below DESE benchmarks for technology support, which recommends 1.0 FTE for every 400 computers. At present, there is a 1.0 FTE systems administrator/technician supporting all of the district’s nearly 2,000 computers. As requested in the FY17 Needs Assessment, a 1.0 FTE Network Technician continues to be a position needed to bolster both support and instruction for staff and students. Efficiencies and enhancements continued during FY 2017, surrounding our student information system (SIS) and state reporting requirements to DESE. As we continue to improve on our data integrity each year, the necessary state reporting is now performed through the Schools Interoperability Framework, also called SIF, which supports multiple applications with one real-time district connection, eliminating time-consuming, manual file uploads.
Working with our SIS vendor SchoolBrains, the district continues to move towards full utilization of our online student registration process. Finally, based on feedback from our staff and parent community, the Department made various enhancements to our Parent Community Portal, allowing for important data to be more readily available and in a more user-friendly format. The Parent Community Portal allows our parent community to update contact information and offers the ability to view progress and report cards, all while being online, greatly reducing paper. With recent recycling efforts and major reductions in old computer screen technology, the combination of greatly reducing printed materials in newsletters and student registration forms, means that we are significantly more green.
(Submitted to our 2018 Budget Booklet as a recap of what took place, in general terms, during the 2017 fiscal year.)