The Copperas Cove Independent School District set its sights on bringing more technology to teachers and students.
The district’s board of trustees voted this month to approve a long-term technology plan, which lays out a roadmap to bolster and improve the availability and use of technology over the next three years.
“We want to provide the best possible learning environment for students, and make sure we stay up-to-date with technology to meet their needs,” said Henry Blair, Cove ISD’s director of technology services.
The district’s technology plan extends through the 2015-2016 school year, and carries an estimated cost of slightly more than $3.6 million. The plan covers nearly every aspect of the district’s technology, including access to devices and hardware, technology infrastructure and training and professional development for teachers and other district staff.
“It’s very comprehensive,” Blair said. “The plan was developed to take a look at all the aspects (of technology).”
The plan lays out several goals, including increasing access to instructional technology devices and equipment; expanding access databases and e-books; providing all staff and students with Web-based email for communication; developing “cyber safety” lessons and providing opportunities for students and teachers to use interactive tools such as podcasts, blogs and wikis in collaborative learning projects.
The program also calls for guidelines to implement a “bring your own device” program
“It will allow them to bring devices they own to school and use them on the district’s network for educational activities,” Blair said. “It’s something we are very excited about.”
Copperas Cove isn’t the only school district to consider a “bring your own device” policy. Jennifer Bergland, director of government relations for the Texas Computer Education Association, said districts across Texas and the United States that previously banned personal smartphones, laptops and tablets are reconsidering those policies.
“They’ve come to the realization
that kids have incredible computing power sitting right in their backpacks that school districts can leverage,” said Bergland, whose organization promotes the use of technology in education.
“BYOD also has a financial advantage, because we are at a point where most school districts don’t have the money to buy every kid a device.”
Whether they opt to institute a “bring your own device” policy or not, Bergland said one of the most important factors in creating and carrying out a long-term technology plan successfully is the support of the district staff, administration and the community during a time of adjustment and change.
“This is a big change, and you need to be able to communicate that change and how it will benefit the district,” Bergland said.
“They have to recognize that there are going to be bumps in the road, and you need to be prepared for that. When they do go wrong, don’t throw up your hands and get scared off. It’s going to take some time for everything to get worked out.”
As CCISD prepares its classrooms for the next generation of education technology, Blair said work is underway on many of the goals in the program.
“We are in good shape, and are constantly reviewing and planning upgrades in preparation for these projects,” he said.