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School has new technology plan

December 26, 2011
Kylie Saari - Staff Writer , Fairmont Sentinel

FAIRMONT - Dave Paschke has a vision for Fairmont Area students.

It is complicated, expensive and, if he is right, in the best interest of students.

Paschke, who serves as the district's director of technology, high school principal and curriculum director, recently presented the district's new technology plan to the school board.?He will hold a public meeting on it at 5 p.m. Jan. 17 at City Hall.

The plan continues a 15-year tradition of setting technology goals for the district, and works toward a system that allows teachers to work more individually with students, as opposed to the traditional lecture method.

"We need to make teaching easier to give teachers time to work individually [with students]," Paschke says.

He described an environment in which students learn the basic information before class and spend classtime doing exercises showing they understand the material, instead of learning it through lecture and doing exercises as homework.

Funding for the technology plan comes from a multiple sources, including capital outlay for equipment needs, operating capital, other government funding and special project funds.

Paschke said all districts are reviewing their technology plans; something done at least every two years. Fairmont's plan, drafted by a technology committee, spans five years and includes items such as:

o Supporting and expanding software applications for students to do independent coursework.

o Helping teachers deliver differentiated instruction based on past student achievement and student readiness.

o Designing structures, policies and accessibility so all students can access the curriculum at the level that is appropriately challenging, both above and below the average.

o Continuing expansion of connectivity to classrooms, meeting and workspaces.

o Developing and updating E-learning and ITV policies for staff, students and community.

o Providing on-demand information to students and parents regarding curriculum, progress reports and school-supported activities.

The state requires districts to include Internet safety classes for K-12 and an anti-bullying component.

"In the next three to four years, there are significant staff development things we need to do," Paschke said.

The technology plans build on each other from year to year, to fluidly create a technological base that is adaptable and current.

Objectives for 2007-2012 range from providing all staff with email accounts, to providing classrooms with projection and sound systems, to upgrading the Internet filter and network security.

One large change not in the technology plan was the ninth-grade computer project, which is in its pilot year. The project equipped each freshman with a laptop and trained him or her - and teachers - how to use the laptops to streamline classwork, increase individual input to the teacher and lighten a heavy textbook load.

Paschke said the project wasn't in the technology plan because it came up so quickly last year, although the new access it gives to students is in line with the goals of the new plan.

Projects and topics to be included in the Jan. 17 meeting discussion are mobile technology, such as the ninth-grade computer project and the use of smart phones and other devices; E-curriculum; Cloud-based systems; social networks; and appropriate use.

"At the [public meeting], I am hoping to present some of the big potential projects, pose some survey type questions and try to collect data from the board and public possibly through an electronic survey tool that you can text too," Paschke said. "We will have a process to ask questions and make comments."



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