Corporation looks to provide each student with device through grant

Medora schools making technology strides

MEDORA

Little by little, more Medora Community Schools students will have technology at their fingertips.

A nearly $75,000 innovative planning grant the corporation received this school year has helped school leaders take the first steps toward becoming fully 1:1.

The school had 50 Chromebooks available for students taking online classes and teachers to utilize.

The goal is for all students to have their own Chromebook device by the spring of 2020.

After receiving the grant, a technology team consisting of Principal Austin Absher and two teachers met monthly with a consultant from Five-Star Technology Solutions to begin building the comprehensive plan for integrating 1:1 technology within the corporation.

Submitted to the Indiana Department of Education at the end of April, the plan outlines the major steps and activities that the technology team has accomplished this year, Absher said. It also includes the tentative plan for 1:1 implementation.

In July 2016, a teacher attended state-offered technology professional development sessions and then helped model technology strategies that were learned, including flipped classroom and Google Classroom.

The next month, technology team members attended more training and shared the information with the school staff.

As the school year progressed, teachers began implementing some of what they learned in the classroom, including Growth Mindset, Pineapple Charts and individualized learning. With most of the elementary switching to multiage classrooms in 2017-18, teachers also learned how to integrate technology to support the transition to that learning model.

Professional development will continue through the end of this year.

Absher said the corporation can apply for a digital learning grant early next year and receive up to $75,000. That can be used for professional development of teachers, purchasing devices and creating avenues for student and parent communication.

“That’s kind of the next step in this 1:1 implementation,” she said.

From this fall to next spring, the plan is to put Chromebooks in teachers’ hands and allow them to utilize them for collaboration. There also is the potential for one high school department area to be a pilot for students using Chromebooks.

The technology team, which is expected to grow, also will be implementing procedures with security and policies in the event some students begin taking the devices home.

“A lot of people are in agreement that devices eventually need to go home with kids, especially to do homework or work on projects, but that’s something that we would have to be sure that the proper policies and procedures are in place,” Absher said.

Superintendent Roger Bane said a lot of 1:1 schools have insurance on the devices that the students take home.

“The other thing is as far as that being a part of textbook rental, we can’t charge them for the computers unless they take those home,” Bane said. “Those are things that have to be discussed and see what the best fit is for us.”

The 2018-19 school year will be a pilot for at least one high school department and one kindergarten or multiage classroom in the elementary to be 1:1.

Pending funding, all students in kindergarten through 12th grade will have Chromebooks sometime in the 2019-20 school year.

Author photo
Zach Spicer is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at zspicer@tribtown.com or 812-523-7080.