The learning experience of students has traditionally been confined to the walls of the classroom. The Ad Hoc Technology Committee of the would like to turn those walls into windows.
The first official step in what promises to be a long process will take place at tonight’s Board meeting when the committee presents its Strategic Technology Initiation, a forward-looking plan that focuses on building the wireless infrastructure necessary to enable the school district to better accommodate twenty-first century technology and adapt to whatever lies ahead.
“Small pockets of our classrooms are integrating table PC’s and projectors and iPads, but it is our view that we can do so much more," said Mitch Slater, chair of the committee. “It’s not about playing catch-up, but taking a giant leap to build for the future.
“As John Dewey, one of America’s great educational thinkers, said 100 years ago, ‘If we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow.’”
In order to go beyond the classrooms, the committee plans to install a campus-style wireless network that will make every school in the district amendable to laptops, iPads and other devices that can be incorporated into the education experience. In addition to improving connectivity, Slater said the process will also aim to improve the collaboration between teacher and student, one where “teachers facilitate and students create.”
Slater noted that the process is not starting from scratch. Several teachers are already using technology to enhance their students’ learning experience, but have been inhibited by the district’s capabilities. This project, Slater said, will make the whole district wireless and couple it with the safest security money can buy.
In addition to Slater and Board members Richard Mattessich, Roseanne Kurstedt and Ginny Leiz, the committee consists of Superintendent Margaret Dolan, Assistant Superintendent Paul Pinero and the district’s Chief Technology Officer Brian Auker. Slater thanked all of them – along with School/Community Relations Coordinator Lorre Korecky – for their hard work and creative input over the last six months, during which the team has met about once a week to prepare the initiative.
The committee’s presentation will open what promises to be a busy Board meeting tonight at 8 p.m. in the Westfield High School cafeteria. Slater described it as the genesis of a process that only begins with the installation of a wireless network.
“We are going to get there,” Slater said. “But we’ve got to start now.”