Guest Contributor: Karen Sterzik, CTE Teacher and District Technology Coordinator
Technology seems to always be a topic of discussion for school districts, and Whitmore Lake is not any different. While we have been fortunate in the past to have received grants and donations, it is now time to step up our game and fully integrate technology into the classrooms. Our students need to have the ability to develop essential skills revolving around technology in order to compete in a technology-driven world. Our staff needs technology resources to not only enhance classroom instruction but bring learning into the 21st Century and learn how to develop a curriculum that fully integrates technology and not just uses it as a tool.
WLPS is lucky to have amazing community support with the passing of our Sinking Fund back in August. Plans are already underway to use the funds to upgrade and bring in new technology to the district. Some of the upgrades include a digital security system, teacher workstations, projectors, and network infrastructure. The projectors, for instance, are not your standard projector, but interactive projectors. This means, they take the place of a Smartboard and allow teachers and students to fully interact with content on any wall surface. They are also laser projectors, which eliminates the expensive bulb replacements.
For our network infrastructure, WLPS will finalize work started three years ago. Server switches, which are close to 15 years old and stand between fast-moving bandwidth and routers, will be replaced with new ones. They have lived a good life, but it is time to upgrade to enhance the speed of both our wired and wireless networks. As classrooms add Chromebooks and iPads, and more state testing is completed online, replacing the infrastructure components, which are the backbone of our network, is essential. Ask any student or staff member, and they will tell you that our network is slow!
Some classrooms will start to see new equipment beginning in January, with the bulk of the work completed next Summer. We want to minimize classroom disruptions, but also meet classroom needs and give proper support to staff with any new technology. If the implementations are to be successful, training will be an integral part of the instructional design process to ensure teachers get the most out of the upgraded technology.
We look forward to continuing to keep our community updated on how we are most effectively and efficiently using the sinking fund dollars and are excited for what the future holds. While this initial plan is aimed at providing immediate technology needs, a more in-depth plan will be in place to address replacement and maintenance plans over the next 10 years.