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What the technology upgrade, BYOD mean for Pequot Lakes Schools

Last fall, Pequot Lakes Public Schools made a great investment in technology.

In addition to computers on carts, LCD projectors were installed in every classroom, document cameras were connected through the sixth grade and teacher stations were updated. These devices allowed teachers to increase the use of technology as an instructional tool.

Time has also been spent this year investigating and piloting many potential technologies helping to determine the future of technology in our district.

The next technology hurdle is student access. As the construction project draws to a close, our schools will have a robust wireless Internet network in place with the capability of supporting any number of devices in classrooms. With the approved purchase of more devices and the adoption of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) we will see students using technology in our schools more than ever before.

The technology proposal approved by the school board last month will increase computer labs/carts for all grades from first through eighth. We will also see an increase in computer access at the high school as the number of computer labs will increase from two to four. The music lab will be updated and there will be continued support for the two industrial arts labs.

Additionally, the social studies and English Language Arts (ELA) departments at the middle school and high school will have access to Chromebooks. These purchases coincide with the curriculum purchases. ELA has an online textbook and a platform for some coursework online. Social studies is adopting a digital platform curriculum that includes a completely interactive electronic textbook with an integrated learning management system.

With Chromebooks, teachers in both the social studies and ELA departments will have the tools to blend online instruction into regular classroom instruction. The Chromebooks, in addition to BYOD devices, will allow students to access the platforms, produce written requirements and save their work in their Google Apps for Education account. These increased access points will lessen computer congestion in labs, increasing access for other students.

These district technology investments for next year will improve the student to device ratio from 1:6 to 1:2. And the implementation of BYOD will further impact that ratio. Bring Your Own Device, while often associated with SMART phones, will also allow students to bring in their own tablets like the iPad, laptop computers and Chromebooks for classroom instruction.

Digital curriculum, devices, BYOD are all part of the overarching technology plan throughout Pequot Lakes Schools. It is an exciting time for us. They remove the student access hurdle when it comes to technology. This growing access will come with growing pains, but we are confident we have people ready to take great strides in technology integration.

(Brian Kazmierczak is technology integration coordinator with the Pequot Lakes School District.)