Forest Park’s elementary schools continue to make smart moves. Last week the district’s board voted to invest more than $500,000 in new technology focused on the classrooms.
Everyone agrees that is a lot of money. But everyone also agrees that over the years the district’s technology plan has been a hodgepodge of modest and largely unintegrated choices. Supt. Lou Cavallo said at last week’s meeting that when he was hired in 2007 “we had a mess in this district” related to technology.
Now with a plan in place, a new director of instructional technology on board and the funds to make this happen, District 91 is moving quickly to equip more classrooms with interactive whiteboards, to provide all teachers with laptop computers and to pilot a program that will give 200 students a Chromebook this fall.
The choice of Chromebook as the underlying technology was the only point of debate at last week’s meeting. Not quite a full-fledged laptop and not a tablet device, the Chromebook adoption led one board member to oppose the plan.We think board member Sean Blaylock made a sincere and reasoned objection. However, we’ll support the inaugural effort of the new tech leader and hope the choice proves wise.
That this district is investing in curriculum based technology is certainly wise and essential. Education is changing. Children have already adapted to new learning methods reflected in the technology. Bringing those methods and tools into the classroom is necessary. And such technology offers a raft of advantages and opportunities in teaching but also in customizing student testing and responding quickly to a student’s learning lapses.
The district is also investing in its technology infrastructure – networks, servers and routers – that will unify teaching efforts and allow for greater collaboration between teachers. We are excited about this investment in our kids. And our sense is that, critically, a good range of teachers and principals are also enthused. That is essential. The only way this works is for teachers to dive in deep. The positive and shared trust that has been built over years between board and administration and faculty will need to pay off here.