SUMMIT, NJ - During Thursday night's meeting of the Summit Board of Education, Board members were provided with an in-depth demonstration of technology, its rapid progression in society and how it pertains to young people today. The demonstration was led by several technology teachers and administrators including Doug Orr, Julie Glazer, Ken Bareford, Gail Tucci, Dory Marcus and Tony Bruno.
School districts are required to provide a three year technology plan to the State of New Jersey. This plan must provide information such as an overview of the district's current technology, technology programs currently in place, and what the district is planning for the next three years when it comes to technology.
A volunteer committee, made up of 32 members, has come together to research the current technology programs in the Summit public schools and devise a plan to further develope these programs for the future. This committee included teachers from multiple grade levels, a library media specialist, a Board member, a parent, a community member, a student focus group, a principal, an assistant principal and various others.
Student learning has been the driving force behind the committee's discussions and the four essential goals it has developed for technology. The goals were primarily designed to focus on how the district will direct its efforts toward modernizing what the administration expects the students to learn and put into practice.
"I want to express my appreciation for the team," said Superintendent Dr. Nathan Parker. "They've done such an excellent job with this."
The technology goals for the 2010-2013 school years are as follows:
1. The district will review and revise the current Summit Public Schools technology benchmarks using the International Society for Technology Education (ISTE) National Technology Education Awards (NETS) as a guideline
2. Students will be able to use interactive tools, such as blogs, wiki and Skype, to communicate with others
3. Students will demonstrate appropriate etiquette, language, behaviour and safety in their use of technology tools including while using social networks
4. District staff will participate in professional development focusing on the use of technology tools and the practical and appropriate integration of technology as detailed in the district.
Different advancements are currently being used within the district and the teachers have experienced great results. Technology teachers have been helping to educate other teachers regarding the rapid-developing world of technology. The students, most importantly, have been retaining the information taught and are eager to learn more. "This is the first time in history that I think that the kids know more than the adults!" said Vice President Jack Lyness.
The process for developing the plan for the next three years entails a variety of low cost solutions. "Skype is a technology that would, in the past, cost a bit of money," explained Doug Orr. "But today, this is a free online video conferencing server."
Online forum discussions are also currently used by the committee members to discuss development and trouble-shooting amongst themselves. Topics regarding technology development were posted and discussed by the committee members to keep the line of communication flowing between them. In the same fashion, students are also able to post online comments to other students and teachers in response to a current topic being taught. This is very popular in the Middle and High Schools. For example, if a discussion is interrupted because the class period ends, it can be further discussed online afterwards.
The district professional development plan supports the training that is necessary to make progress towards these goals. These opportunities include Professional Learning Communities, in-service support, annual reviews, curriculum discussion and reviews and one-on-one technology training teachers.
"This is one of the most collaborative efforts I have ever seen," said Orr. "I'm so excited about the future of technology because the emphasis has been put on the learning, and not necessarily spending more money to do so."