As emerging technology continues to dictate the way wefunction in this global society, there is a growing need torestructure our education system . This transformation requiresan infrastructure that would make learning opportunitiesavailable to learners, educators and administrators regardless oflocation or time. Efforts are in place to help meet this challenge.
The explosion of new technologies into society changes the wayeducation is viewed. This includes even the basic assumptionthat teachers are the communicators of learning. Throughtechnology, the new techno savvy learners now haveopportunities to share in this communication process.
Through technology, learning and communication in theclassroom is no longer just top-down but is now circular andeven extends outside the classroom. To funnel growth for thistransformation, districts must find ways to support connectivity. Students Teachers Teachers Students
Because this transformation is a huge undertaking for localdistricts, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)implemented the E-Rate discount program administered by the(USAC) Universal Service Administration Company to providemonetary support with providing connectivity in elementary andsecondary schools and libraries.
The PURPOSE of E-Rate is to ensure that all eligible schools andlibraries have affordable access to modern telecommunicationsand information services and to provide discounts for services.
Discounts are to promote improved Internet Access Telecommunications Services Internal Network Connections Basic Maintenance and Support
Discounts range from 20% to 90% of costs for eligible servicesdepending on the level of poverty and the urban/rural status ofthe population served.
E-Rate money for school districts is contingent on the ability ofthe districts to Implement filters that block student access to content that may be harmful to minors Provide online safety to students Monitor online activities
Schools can apply each year for discounts.If funded, bills can be discounted directly from the serviceproviders or through reimbursement of services.Programs are capped at receiving no more than $2.25 billion perprogram year.
Schools are responsible for providing additional resources tomeet connectivity objectives such as Computers Telephones Software Professional Development
Steps needed to apply for and receive these discounts includeStep 1 - Development of a Technology PlanStep 2 - Opening of the Competitive Bidding ProcessStep 3 - Seeking Discounts on Eligible ServicesStep 4 - Confirming the receipt of these servicesStep 5 - Invoicing USAC for these Services
The USAC Website supplies more details on E-Rate.
Step 1 of the E-Rate application process, development of aTechnology PlanShows how schools will use technology to achieve specificcurriculum reforms and guide planning and investment for bothE-Rate funds and for other resources needed to take advantageof technology.
Clear goals and strategies for using technologies Professional development strategies to ensure staff knows how to use these new technologies Assessment of the components to technology such as the actual services, hardware and software An evaluation process
Irving ISD has developed its 2010 - 2013 technology plan to movethe district forward in its continued effort to integratetechnology into schools.
The district’s Long Range Plan for Technology expands over 3years and covers four major areas1) Integration of Technology into Teaching and Learning2) Professional Development3) Administration and Support Services and4) Infrastructure for Technology
There are seven goals that the district lists and various strategiesthat accompany these goals.
Goal # 1 - Infuse higher level thinking with technology andquality instruction.Strategies include integrating technology TEKS and higherorder thinking into 100% of curriculum areas, increasingintegration of technology and maintaining the 1:1 ratio ofcomputing devices for students grades 9–12 and teachers.
Goal # 2 - Support assessment and planning through the use oftechnology.Strategies include providing technology support for assessing.
Goal # 3 - Educate all students and teachers in responsibletechnology use.Strategies include trainings on appropriate use and internetsafety.
Not only are students and faculty trained on appropriate use andinternet safety but parents also attend computer classes wherethey undergo trainings about safety on the internet.
Goal # 4 – Ensure that professional development is on-goingand high quality.Strategies include providing differentiated job-embeddedtechnology training, increasing the use of technology in staffdevelopments, and demonstrating the effective use of digitaltools and resources.
All staff participate in trainings that focus on technology.
Staff developments focus on the needs of the campus.Trainings are conducted by Instructional Technology Specialists(ITS).
Goal # 5 - Ensure 100% administrative participation inappropriate software programs.Strategies include using software programs and increasingcommunications through the use of technology.
Goal #6 - Provide leadership to leverage technology for theimprovement of teaching and learning in classrooms.Strategies include integrating technology into curriculum andmaintaining technology resources for continued improvement.
Goal #7 - Ensure a stable infrastructure for technology use.Strategies include insuring dependable operations 24/7 anddeveloping a sustainable system with available funds.
Local evaluations will be conducted for each aspect of the plan.This includes walk through evaluations and a district-developedtechnology standards assessment.The Texas STaR Chart (School Technology and Readiness) willalso be used to measure progress.
The district has developed a Long Range Technology PlanningCommittee who will meet at least once a year to review progressmade toward the Long Range Plan for Technology.This committee along with the board’s goal of staff to use avariety of technological resources to engage students shouldhelp successfully transition the district into the 21st Century.