Superintendent Dr. Lori VanLeer

The Washington School District’s iBelieve team is growing as its digital learning initiative takes shape.

Superintendent Dr. Lori VanLeer said the iBelieve team reconvened Nov. 6 with 57 members in attendance.

“We added several to the team to get a broader perspective and ownership regarding integration of technology and future work,” VanLeer told The Missourian. “Basically, the meeting was about re-establishing ourselves and focus.”

The first phase of the initiative, a pilot program at Washington High School called BYOD or Bring Your Own Device, is already under way.

Members of the iBelieve team are leading different class sections in piloting various digital tools in preparation for a more broad scale launch.

The project was started at the high school because it’s the first building to go live with wireless infrastructure.

At last week’s meeting, VanLeer said the group talked about utilizing all of its resources and how to move from the BYOD option to a 1 to 1 (one student/one device) initiative over the next five years.

The team, comprised of librarians, pilot teachers at Washington High School, some middle school and elementary teachers, the entire technology department, the Four Rivers Career Center IT instructor and administration, will hold another planning and work session Nov. 26.

VanLeer also shared a PowerPoint with the iBelieve Team titled Phase 2: Transforming Our Learning Environment which included a time line for moving to a 1 to 1 environment.

That time line includes having all certified staff move from desktop computers to laptops by this summer.

With the BYOD pilot program under way and wireless infrastructure being put into place at all of the elementary schools, VanLeer said it’s time now to begin talking about the transformations in learning by grade level and the level of integration desired.

“We need to decide what digital learning resources and technological tools we wish to support, train and utilize to enhance the educational experiences of our kids,” she said. “We need to utilize all of our resources, those that can directly assist, those that can marginally assist, and otherwise.”

Even with all of the digital changes taking place, VanLeer said nothing can replace quality teaching.

“One thing is for sure, quality teaching is most important, integration of technology is more about the toolbox,” she said. “Teaching isn’t necessarily changing, the toolbox is changing.”