Board Hears About 1:1 Initiative

1:1 artwork

Members of Ottumwa High School’s technology committee presented their plan to rollout a 1:1 computer initiative beginning in August 2019 to the board on Monday. The result:  Every student will have a computer to support classroom instruction. 

The technology committee was assembled in the fall of 2017 to explore what technology needs existed and how technology use would be transformed in the future. The committee’s goal is to increase student engagement and productivity while preparing students for life beyond high school.

Three staff members, including Tyler Courtney, Director of Technology; Brooke Fischels, math teacher; and Angie Sheets, Curriculum Instructional Leader, presented the initiative to board members. They shared a timeline of the work that has been done to date, recommendations, and how they plan to proceed with the roll-out. 

The group reviewed 19 different devices based on a teacher survey that identified learning needs. The list was narrowed down to four. Other considerations will include battery life and device repair costs. They plan to submit a recommendation to purchase devices this spring.

One result of this initiative will be the opportunity for students to learn about a technology career. Students will be offered the opportunity to take HP courses and assist with device support and repairs. The Help Desk will allow students to gain real world experience and certifications as well as the potential to earn course credits. 

The teaching staff are shifting practices to support a 1:1 initiative. Instruction is becoming more student-centered and staff have piloted a new learning management system, Schoology. This system integrates with the district’s current student information system, PowerSchool. Teachers will use it to archive course content; assist with assessments; and access online simulations. Student advantages will include improved technology operation skills, increased access to information, increased opportunities for student collaboration with peers, and the ability to demonstrate their learning.

One board concern was access to the internet outside the instructional day. A BrightBytes survey taken last spring indicated that of those students who took the survey (approximately 60%), 92% have internet access at home. This aligns with the state average for students with internet access at home. The district will work with community partners to identify places where free Wi-Fi is available. Students can also download content during the school day and work on assignments in the evening without the need for internet access. 

As required by federal guidelines (Children’s Internet Protection Act), all district devices will filter off-site web use. Email and messaging will also be electronically monitored to detect self-harm, bullying, substance abuse signs, and more. A parent portal will provide controls and reports for parents, including web history, searches, and flagged material.

The technology committee will continue to plan for the 1:1 rollout at OHS. Their process will ensure that all student and staff needs are met, all feedback has been considered, and that they will continue to communicate with staff, the board, and the public. Planning will include the logistics of the roll-out, policies, and procedures that the committee believes will work best in Ottumwa. There will also be professional development provided to all OHS staff. 

“We are excited about the opportunities and possibilities for the future,” said Superintendent Nicole Kooiker. “Great job to the committee for the work they have done and continue to do to increase student engagement and productivity for our students as we prepare them for the ever-changing world.”