The Washington School District’s Focus Group 3 met again this week as it works to develop a comprehensive technology plan.
At Wednesday night’s meeting, representatives from the Pattonville School District discussed their 1:1 digital learning initiative. Launched at the start of the 2012-13 school year, the initiative provides a MacBook Air laptop to every student at Pattonville High School.
Superintendent Dr. Lori VanLeer said more than 60 people, including community members, students and educators, were in attendance.
As part of the Washington Way Project, Focus Group 3 is developing a plan to best incorporate technology into the daily work environment of district students.
VanLeer says the goal is to help students become more engaged and improve their achievement levels in all areas.
Members are currently researching six aspects of the plan — communications, device selection, evaluation, funding, implementation and professional learning.
Dr. Jennifer Tiller, director of secondary education at Pattonville, talked about the importance of professional development and training, while Greg Southard, director of technology services, described infrastructure and staffing requirements.
Pattonville High School Assistant Principal Jon Fitzgerald also discussed disciplinary issues and student responsibility.
Following a 20-minute informational video, Tiller, Southard and Fitzgerald answered questions from group members.
“It was gracious of the folks from Pattonville to travel to Washington to present to our group,” said VanLeer.
“The information they shared will be helpful as we strategically plan for the Washington Way,” she said. “They shared what has gone well with their rollout, as well as what has proved to be challenging for them. I appreciated that they feel their iLearn initiative is more about teaching and learning, not just technology. I considered this an important clarification.”
At last month’s meeting, a presentation on iPad utilization in the classroom was given by two St. Francis Borgia Regional High School students. Borgia launched its iPad initiative this year where traditional textbooks have been replaced by iBooks and every student and teacher is using an iPad and stylus.
No decision has been made on whether the Washington School District would utilize laptops or some other tablet.
VanLeer ended the meeting with an update on the focus group’s steering committee work and the technology survey currently under way.
“Approximately 1,300 students have taken the survey to date along with 250 parents,” she said. The survey remains open until Dec. 14.
The steering committee previously met with an expert in computer planning, execution and assessment. The discussion also included financial planning, infrastructure development, faculty development, curriculum integration, device procurement and end user support.
The superintendent said anyone interested in helping shape the district’s technology future is invited to attend the next Focus Group 3 meeting Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the TLC.