The Glen Rose Independent School Board got technical last Thursday night.
During the regular meeting of the Board of Trustees, they unanimously voted to approve spending $1,783,309.04 to upgrade and replace electronic items such as Dell computers and Apple iPads for students and teachers.
The vote was 6-0. Board trustee Wade Busch not in attendance.
Superintendent Wayne Rotan said that the funding had already been earmarked for that, in the GRISD’s fund balance.
“We had set that aside for our capital fund improvements,” Rotan said.
Doug McClure, GRISD’s director of technology, said, “It’s a minimum 15-year plan. There’s a larger amount set aside to last 15 years. This is a portion of that.”
The GRISD has been providing advanced technology in the classrooms for years, and officials showed that now is the time for an upgrade.
“We started our one-to-one student laptop initiative in 2012,” Rotan said. “Every kid in the school district has a MacBook or an iPad. We certainly think it’s a great benefit for our students and staff to keep them at the forefront with the most current technology available.”
As for the old equipment, Rotan said, “We’re still going to be utilizing them in other areas.”
Teachers will now also have Apple TV, giving them access to even more teaching tools.
“One of the things we’re very excited about is that it will be easier (for teachers) to video their instruction for those who are absent,” Rotan said, noting that students can use the video to catch up with the rest of the class in such cases.
McClure mentioned that the Internet had already been in mainstream use for four to five years before current high school seniors who are about to graduate this May were born.
McClure said that the new equipment will include 200 classroom kits featuring a new all-in-one wireless Dell computer with the latest technology — an Intel I-5 processor and 8 gigabytes of RAM. He said delivery should be within the next 30 days so that teachers can get theirs before the summer break.
Both Apple and Microsoft equipment will be available for use, McClure said, using something called “virtualization,” manufactured by Citrix, which makes Windows software compatible with Apple devices.
“Teachers can switch between Microsoft and Apple with the switch of a button,” McClure said. “It doesn’t matter what job (the student) goes to, they are going to have a broad understanding of all the tools available. So, we’re really killing two birds with one stone.”
The classroom equipment is re-evaluated from time to time to make sure students have technology that actually helps them learn more effectively.
“A lot can change in five years,” McClure said. “We take the tried and true principles of education and use the tools available today that make it more personal for the student. We embrace the best tools available.”
McClure said that’s “a more efficient way of learning” that “sticks better with the kids.”
Of course, Glen Rose schools aren’t the only ones using such technology to boost students’ learning.
“I’d say there’s a large percentage doing it,” Rotan said. “We’re really for 21st century learning. Technology will be a big part of our future. It’s very important for us to stay on current technology trends and prepare our students for the future.”
McClure noted that several studies have shown that information tends to stick with students longer when it is made more personal through technology.
“We’ve seen growth in our (test) scores,” McClure said. “Teachers see more success on a day-to-day basis.”