The Fort Thomas Independent Schools expects its teachers to become effective users of technology in order to provide a learning environment that is innovative, creative, and user-friendly. Teachers should function as coaches, mentors, information managers, and, in general, as facilitators of knowledge. Teachers should have the knowledge and skills to integrate these technologies in a manner that will address students’ specific needs and learning styles. We require all teachers to have web pages and use eMail and other technology programs. We have just recently taken our professional development program online, and that program has matured through this school year.
Installing computerized HVAC systems in new buildings has resulted in more efficient air systems. Installing key card locks in new buildings has resulted in better access for all stakeholders.
How have you financed your technology initiatives—through grants? eRate funds? Local funds? Corporate partnerships? Or some combination of these techniques?
Most of our technology expenditures come from local funds. Our state education department does provide matching funds twice a year to help supplant our local expenditures. Our district also participates in the eRate program, but we are only eligible for telecommunication reimbursement at the 41-percent level. We have an active Education Foundation that provides teacher and school grants to help offset other prohibitive costs.
What initiative are you most proud of, and why?
Making wireless technology a priority in every building allows us to provide a way for students and faculty to bring their own devices to school to learn or instruct in the best way possible. Right now, we provide a limited “bring your own device” option for students and faculty. Our plan is to expand that project in the next couple of years.
What have been your biggest ed-tech challenges, and why? How have you overcome those challenges?
Time is and always will be the biggest challenge in implementing any type of new program. Finding time for professional development opportunities that reach all of our participants is difficult. Our technology department offers weekly after-school technology sessions to help combat the professional development problem, and we also plan our summer professional development opportunities around topics that will benefit the largest number of people.
What’s your best or most useful ed-tech advice for your colleagues?
Ask to be involved in decision-making procedures from all different types of stakeholders: teachers, students, administrators and parents.
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