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As
a part of our commitment to ensuring baseline technology standards in all
our schools, Indianapolis Public Schools are upgrading computers used
for instruction. With
the help of federal eRate funding, schools will have the opportunity
to replace their instructional computers over four years old (and even some
less than four years old if the replaced computers are then repurposed by the
school or district).

This program means several things to
schools:

·       A
chance for teachers and students to work on the most current technology

·      
More flexibility in conducting student testing in the classroom

·      
The opportunity to get all classrooms on the same computer platform

When you add that Computer Refresh
includes extra funds to ensure that schools below the IPS average
computer-to-student ratio get up to standard, the program represents a
unique opportunity to level the technological playing field for all IPS
schools.

However, the district and the
Information Technology Department aren’t making the decisions on what equipment
schools will have. Instead, schools are provided a menu of equipment
recommendations, allowing each school to decide how the Computer Refresh will
best benefit them.

 

A committee known as the Classroom
Technology Partnership (CTP)— which includes principals and
representatives from district Curriculum & Instruction and Information
Technology (IT) departments—was commissioned by district leaders to
determine and recommend the approach. The Computer Refresh program and an
approved catalog of Computer Refresh devices was the result of that
collaboration.

Additionally, lead teachers were
enlisted to evaluate devices that were offered as part of the approved catalog.
IT Supervisor of Operations Wayne Hawkins noted, “We also surveyed teachers
about what was most important to them about devices: items like weight of the
machine ease of keyboard use and ease of connection to classroom audio/visual
devices.” In other words, steps were taken to ensure teacher needs were considered from
the start.

 

Now the choice for the devices is in
the hands of leaders at the school level. “This is the first time schools have
local control over technology choices from an approved catalog,” said IPS
Information Technology Officer Laura Larimer. “They get to make the choices on
refreshing teacher devices, classroom devices, media center computers—any
instructional devices.”

Larimer went on to stress that this
won’t be a unilateral decision by principals either. “Principals do not make
the decisions on their own, but in collaboration with their leadership
teams that can include assistant principals, teacher representatives, parents
and community representatives,” she said. Members of school communities
will collaborate to make the decisions on the technology that works best for
their students and families.

We’re proud of the way the Computer
Refresh program offers this level of district support with this component of
school autonomy. We’re even more excited by what these technological upgrades
will mean to the success of our students in the years to come!