When students returned to the Bronxville School in September they encountered technology changes everywhere. Instead of occasional visits to a lab, Elementary students began using laptops or Chromebooks in their classrooms. Secondary students were assigned school email accounts for the first time, and they learned to use a new portal for information about homework and tests.
Parents, too, experienced technology changes when the District redesigned its website and launched upgrades to its student information system. Finally, teachers also adapted to the new email and portal systems.
Changes of this scope, affecting all stakeholders, required information, support, and training:
- Secondary students and their parents received information about how to set up network accounts and access the portal. District staff worked with students to manage passwords and ensure access to gmail, the network, and the portal.
- Support has been provided through documentation, on-line instructions, and individual assistance. An email link for requesting help appears on each school's webpage.
- K-12 Teachers were trained on how to work with the portal upgrades with respect to posting assignments, taking attendance, and grade reporting.
- Professional development regarding the use of Google applications began last spring and continues this year, both in the form of after school classes and individual assistance. A trainer is on site two days a week and follow-up training about grade reporting has been scheduled.
Eight weeks after the opening of school, where do things stand?
- In order to support the rapid expansion of portable devices the District increased its bandwidth and extended wireless access throughout the building, including the Elementary School. This major project has thus far proved stable and effective.
- The new Chromebook and laptop carts are in high demand, with extremely high daily use.
- At the High School, all but seven students have activated their accounts, and 422 have logged in in the last two days.
- At the Middle School, all but three regular education students have activated their accounts, and 80 have logged in over the past two days.
- Google Classroom applications -- an optional set of tools for teachers --have spread widely and quickly. Teachers have created many technology-enriched lessons, often using electronic collaboration and communication.
Because the communication functions of Google Classroom and the Portal overlap, some students (and teachers) are unsure which application to use for specific purposes. The Portal is the District's electronic bulletin board: this is where teachers must post their course syllabus, grading rationale, and assignments. This is also how parents monitor progress reports and quarterly grades. Google Classroom, on the other hand, is more of a sandbox – a place for student-to-student and student-to- teacher interaction. We see innovation and experimentation in all three schools.
At the October Board of Education meeting, Superintendent David Quattrone provided updated information. Board members made several suggestions, including monitoring and addressing any ongoing parent concerns and developing a structure for assessing the impact of technology on student learning.