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Technology plays big role in teaching

By Staff | Jan 15, 2012

Jodee Lund

Technology discussion was the main focus of last Monday night’s regular Blue Earth Area school board meeting.

After hearing from staff members David Sparks and Jennifer Berkner, the board officially adopted a Technology Policy for 2013 through 2015.

Sparks reported the school district has nearly 600 computers, six computer labs and 50 Smart Boards in use.

He says the new Technology Policy has four main goals, which encompass providing adequate technology and support and professional training for both staff and students.

Also included in the policy is the section called acceptable use policy which deals with what the technology can be used for.

“We have a filter system in place for our Internet use,” Sparks says. “Plus, the policy specifically says that material on school machines is not guaranteed to be private.”

Berkner went into detail on the ways technology is being used and how the staff is being trained.

“We have Tech Tuesdays,” she says, “which is when we do some individual training.”

Two teachers, Jodee?Lund and Doug Storbeck, told the board how they are integrating technology into their classrooms.

Both have been a part of a group of BEA staff members who have traveled to Byron Schools to learn what they are doing with technology. Byron is a leader in the use of technology in schools.

Storbeck says the math teachers are developing videos on certain math problems which can be put on YouTube and downloaded by the students on their PLD (personal learning device).

“I want learning to be accessible, personalized, engaging and effective,” Storbeck tells the board. “This is a way to do just that.”

Lund says using the technology allows students to work at a faster pace.

“Sometimes they can do in one day what might take a week of regular teacher lectures to accomplish,” she says.

The new tech policy also addresses students use of their own personal devices, such as Smart phones, iPads, iPods and more.

The school plans on starting a trial usage of student’s own PLD’s starting in April and lasting through the end of the school year.

In other business, the school board:

• Elected Frankie Bly as chairman of the board, Mary Eckhardt as vice-chair, Jesse Hough as clerk and Shane Becker as treasurer.

• Learned that several people have been named to be on the community committee which will interview the superintendent candidates in February – as will the school board.

Named so far are David Frundt, Bill Erickson, Kathy Johnson, Becky Jacobs, Mark Maher and either David or Suzie Olson.

In addition, middle school principal Melissa McGuire will be on the committee, as will four teachers and one non-certified staff member yet to be named.