The district already owns 5,200 Chromebooks but as part of the initiative, 9,000 more were purchased for students in grades 3-12, as well as one for each teacher. Devices for students in preschool to second grade are still in the process of being selected and will likely be a touchscreen/tablet style.
Junior high and high school students will be able to take their assigned device home each day. Devices for elementary students will typically remain in the classroom during the week, but they can be taken home for the weekend. There is flexibility for a student to take their device home during the week if their teacher sees a need. All devices will be turned in at the end of the school year for cleaning and maintenance. In most cases, the same device will be reissued to the same student the following school year.
Each device will have safeguards in place to protect children from inappropriate websites and downloads from the internet will not be possible. Only district approved programs will function on the devices and a district log-in will be required each time the device is used.
Though there will not be a fee to use the devices, parents will be responsible to pay for a replacement if a student purposefully breaks it or if it is broken due to negligence. If it is proven to be accidental, then the school will not assess any charges.
Technology training for Teachers
Professional development and coaching will be provided for teachers to help them know how to best use technology daily in their classroom to facilitate high-quality digital learning.
“More than anything, the initiative is about changing the way learning and teaching takes place to make it more impactful for educators and learners across the district,” said TCSD Educational Technology Specialist Thane St. Clair. “Students should have the best access to technology, but teachers need to be equipped to implement it effectively.”
Bryce Eardley, TCSD Technology director, agreed training is an important part of the initiative.
“Technology by itself will not fix anything. It’s all about how it is used,” said Eardley. “Teachers will be trained on how to take their traditional classroom teaching strategies into a digital realm. Tech can give teachers another tool to expand their capabilities and enhance how they are able to interact, collaborate, and teach their students. It can also allow students to interact with their teacher and classmates in ways they never could before."
Planning for the Future
“Too often we’ve heard the Digital Teaching and Learning Initiative is a reaction to Covid-19 or home-based teaching. But, we actually started down this path years before this health pandemic.”
For the last three years, a grant through the state of Utah has helped bring more technology training to teachers and devices to students but according to Board of Education President, Maresa Manzione, an actual signed initiative on the district-level will ensure funds don’t get pushed to the back burner.
“Because we’ve now dedicated this money, time, and professional development toward an overall plan, it will be a big benefit to our teachers because they will all learn how to use the devices and use them well in their classrooms,” said Manzione.
She also said she is excited students will have access to more education at home and enhanced education during the school day.
The initiative will provide teachers with ongoing training while helping students understand the role technology plays in their lives.
“Although there is sometimes fear about adding technology in the classroom, once teachers start using it with their students to see how it can transform their classroom, amazing changes will happen," said Eardley, "Learning can move at a different pace.”