Wireless technology helps create first-class 21st Century learning environment.
Already known as an innovator, Indian Prairie School District 204 determined in 2011 that it wanted to incorporate more technology into the classroom. Yet the budget wasn’t available to create a “one to one” technology program. It was then that the Superintendent, Dr. Kathryn Birkett, worked with her staff to explore the possibilities of implementing a Bring-Your-Own-Technology initiative.
While BYOT would solve the classroom technology issue, it created another – ensuring sufficient bandwidth for all the devices that would be hitting the wireless network in each school. While the schools already had wireless technology in place, it was older technology designed for limited use by teachers and administrators. Moving to BYOT would require more coverage with faster connections and more bandwidth to support simultaneous use by thousands of users.
Work began in early 2012 on a pilot program to install Cisco 802.11n wireless access points that would provide high density and high capacity in 30 classrooms located in six schools. Training was also provided to teachers in those classrooms, both on how to use the technology effectively and how to communicate about it to parents to alleviate their concerns.
The pilot program was a huge success. In a post-pilot survey, the responses of 746 parents, teachers and students overwhelmingly confirmed the positive effect the BYOT program had, particularly on student engagement.
“In the survey, 81 percent of the teachers said student engagement levels have risen as a result of BYOT,” Stan Gorbatkin, Superintendent for Technology Services at Indian Prairie School District 204, says. “In addition, 90 percent of the teachers said they’d received positive feedback from the students, and 90 percent of students felt it would be beneficial to offer more BYOT in the classroom.”
Along with other initiatives, Gorbatkin says that Single Path has approached this endeavor in a manner which helped its success. Overall, he has been very happy with Single Path’s knowledge and commitment to finding innovative solutions for the unique needs of IPSD 204.
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