Tech Geeks’ Meeting
Educational Technology Council
On Thursday, I attended our quarterly school district’s Educational Technology Council meeting, which brings together school base technology specialist and technicians. This is always an important opportunity for these team members to come together. These technology experts are on the front lines of our curriculum, digital assessments, technology initiatives and state mandates.
In today’s classrooms nearly every aspect of teaching and learning uses technology. From the overhead projectors, cameras, to the teacher’s computer, to the student’s iPads, to the many many different software and apps. Our technology specialist and technicians play a critical and essential role in making everything work and helping developers curriculum solutions for the classroom.
These are such dedicated individuals that are having to manage a massive growing and challenging necessary infrastructure. They are often having to use creative means to stay ahead of issues. While they cannot continue to do so, these individuals have had to manage massive increases in hardware and have done these implementations with their existing resources saving the district thousands of dollars and making learning more engaging and relevant.
Director of Instructional Technology, Dr. Mike Geddes shared about our district’s growing network bandwidth requirements. Network bandwidth needs of our schools and district have increased from 100MB in 2011 to 2000MB in 2017 and we are headed to 5000MB within just a short time. What is driving this? Textbook adoption is required to be digital, along with our supplemental, enrichment and intervention curriculums is increasing bandwidth usage. The current cost of this bandwidth is approximately $40,000 a month, but thankfully 80% of that cost is paid for not out of our school’s general fund but through rebates through E-Rate. E-Rate is the Schools and Libraries Program of the Universal Service Fund, which is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company under the direction of the Federal Communications Commission.
At the meeting ‘techs’ have the opportunity to share their knowledge, tricks and tools with one another. District Technology Specialist, Matt Biggs shared about a learning and programming tool/toy called “Sphero SPRK+” which students can program the “Sphero” ball to move as the students’ learn coding to program the ball’s paths. Tina Hackey, the Media Technology Specialist at Citrus Springs Elementary School shared about another exciting robot for students to program, the Ozobot. We are seeing these tools in our schools in MakerSpace areas. Rachel Drummond, the Technology Specialist from Inverness Middle School shared about Google Translate to communicate with now English speaking students. Google Translate app allows you to have your mobile device camera in real-time look at text on a sign or paper and translate it as they are looking at it. This tool is assisting students to learn while they are learning their new language, and it is helping teachers and students to better communicate and build relationships.
This is always an informative meeting and I walk away grateful that my own children are in a school district that have these dedicated and technology committed individuals. They are bettering students to have the knowledge and experience to be more successful in their individual future college and careers.
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