Recently, principals and leadership teams across the Indianapolis Public Schools district were able to place orders to refresh their computers and other technology in their schools. In previous years, new technology decisions were made by the district, but this time, principals and leadership teams had a choice in which technology they wanted in their schools. Laura Larimer, IPS Information Technology Officer, led the implementation of this new initiative by identifying funding, designing a technology catalogue, and processing the schools’ orders.
“There is a funding source that’s called the E-rate program that can only be used for technology,” says Larimer.
According to the Federal Communications Commission website, “The schools and libraries universal service support program, commonly known as the E-rate program, helps schools and libraries to obtain affordable broadband. Funding may be requested under two categories of service: category one services to a school or library (telecommunications, telecommunications services and Internet access), and category two services that deliver Internet access within schools and libraries (internal connections, basic maintenance of internal connections, and managed internal broadband services).”
“Our district qualified for a 90 percent reimbursement rate through the [E-rate] program, so all of the funds spent on infrastructure to deliver internet access gets reimbursed back to us,” says Larimer, “Those reimbursement funds were then used to order the new computers and tablets.”
Once the funding was in place, the fun began. Larimer put together a catalogue of new systems ranging from Apple MacBook Air Laptops to HP Stream Notebook Laptops. The catalogue was then presented to principals and their leadership teams to select, vote and order which systems they wanted for their schools.
We ordered MacBook Airs for all of our teachers, they are very user friendly and they sync with our iPads that we already have, having this new technology is making everything 100 percent easier for the teachers,” says Kathleen Miller, Principal for William McKinley School 39.
Principal Miller says she also ordered about 300 HP Streams for the students to use. She says interactive learning programs such as MobyMax, whichfocuses on developing students to become better problem solvers and critical thinkers, will be easier to use on the upgraded laptops.
The Fourth Grade Team at William McKinley School 39 expressed their excitement about the new MacBook Airs, “We enjoy our new computers. They are lightweight and easy to carry from room to room and home as needed. We like the multi-screen capability. Battery life has been incredible. It is nice to have easy access to pictures to use for building background knowledge during guided reading groups too. We love them!”
Corye Franklin, Principal for William Penn School 49, says his team placed a more blended order containing iPads, MacBook Airs for students and HP Laptops for teachers.
“I like the new iPads because they’re small and fun to use,” says W. Miller, sixth grader at William Penn School 49.
“The teachers are creating a list of apps such as Accelerated Reader and Brain Pop that will increase student engagement and learning. Those apps contain quizzes that are graded immediately after completion and gauge students’ progressive learning patterns,” says Principal Franklin.
Through the process of the new technology implementation, principals and leadership teams were able to drive innovative classroom efforts in directions that will have the greatest influence on the students. Giving schools more choices and ability to make their own technological decisions has proven to be a positive step in the right direction for educational development and enhancement in our schools.