Technology Plans at Tallassee City Schools
We have begun a long, expensive and rewarding journey. Our goal is to integrate technology into all classrooms. This technology will be completely integrated into classroom lessons. Our goal is not to teach technology, but to teach using technology. We will refer to these classrooms as 21st Century Classrooms. Our students and teachers will literally have a world of information at their finger tips. I firmly believe, and statistics have shown, that these students will be much more engaged in the learning process. Their school day will be filled with vivid sounds and images, enabling them to communicate, collaborate, research and learn in ways unimagined a few short years ago.
What will our 21st Century Classroom look like?
1. The most important component will be a highly motivated and well trained teacher. It is crucial that our teachers are continuously trained on all equipment and have the technical support to keep it operational.
2. An Interactive White Board will be the focus of the class.
3. All students will have an Individual Responder. This will allow a teacher to gather data to judge the effectiveness of the lesson.
4. An internet connected computer to run the White Board.
5. Classrooms will have a sound amplification system which will consist of an amplifier, speakers and a wireless microphone. The teacher will wear the wireless microphone on a strap around his/her neck. This results in all students being able to hear as if the teacher were speaking to them from 3 feet. In other words, all students can hear what the teacher is saying, no matter where they are sitting in the classroom. Teachers don't have time to repeat themselves, and some students are reluctant to ask that the information be repeated. Statistics have shown that this is a very valuable tool in the classroom.
6. Each child will have a mobile computing device for use in the classroom and at home. This will be the greatest challenge; the huge cost to purchase these computers is the most obvious obstacle, but certainly far from the only one. We would need to make significant changes to our network infrastructure. We have a very good network at the present, but it would not handle the additional 1000 wireless computers. We would need to install at least two wireless access points in every classroom. Teachers would have to make a fundamental change in the way they teach to fully integrate the use of this One-To-One concept. As we move toward this One-To-One strategy there will also be huge advantages to our district and students. The district would not need to purchase other computers such as labs and student classroom desktops. There would not be a need to purchase physical text books; rather, all textbooks would be preloaded on the laptops. Our students would not need to carry heavy loads of books. Last, but certainly not least, ours students will gain enormous academic advantages. I am convinced that this would carry over to higher scores and lower dropout rates.
Network Infrastructure and Technology Projects
The Tallassee City Schools Network infrastructure has a 100Mbps fiber optics network down to the classroom level. (Very fast) It is currently limited to 100Mbps due to the switches where it connects to each location. I plan to upgrade the WAN (Wide Area Network) to 1Gbps as soon as possible. (Blazing fast)
VoIP telephones have been installed in all offices and classrooms. This enhances the safety of all students and staff in the district. These Cisco phones are used to deliver bells and intercom announcements, as well as telecommunications to all locations. By combining these into one system we have additional functionality at a lesser cost. Parents have the ability to talk to, or to leave a message on the teacher's voice mail. It is important for a teacher to hear the tone of the parent; email can't do that.
The Access lab is installed and operational. This allows our students to take classes taught by a teacher at another location. They have the advantage of taking courses that are not offered in our district. Example: Latin and about 800 other courses. Students can do virtual field trips.
We have purchased tablet PCs for most classroom teachers who completed the necessary training. We will continue until all teachers have a tablet PC.
The District has installed 16 Interactive White Board over the last several months.
The District has acquired Exchange Server for all email needs. This is far superior to the email system we previously had.
We have purchased the software and hardware to make our server environment virtual. We were required to install new servers to run the new District Information System that contains all school databases. The advantages the virtual environment will give the district are as follows:
1. Ease of management from a central control panel.
2. Cost effectiveness. It is less expensive to bring new servers online. All our current physical servers can be replaced with virtual servers. I will go from 20 (older) physical servers to three physical servers. These three physical servers can contain approximately fifty virtual servers in their current state. They can be upgraded to contain an unlimited amount of virtual servers.
3. Disaster Recovery will be enhanced. All data is stored on a SAN (Storage Area Network). This is a more secure way to store critical data. I plan to add another SAN at a different location, which will provide true Disaster Recovery.
4. Scalability (can be expanded to meet future needs)
The next advancement in computer technology
PCoIP (Basically PCoIP is a virtual computer.) We would use a small interface device with Keyboard, Mouse, and monitor that connects to a large server which houses all of the computing power, applications, and data. Your computer would be a file on a server somewhere. Your local hardware would not get old; you could use it as long as it functions because all the upgrading would happen on the server. The District would have all the same advantages as with the virtual servers.
I encourage everyone to come to the schools and see what we are doing.