MCSD plans required 1-to-1 Technology Rollout events

Parents and students are required to attend the MCSD Technology Rollout events on Aug. 15 and 16 at MHS. At that time, information will be shared about the devices and the students’ responsibilities throughout the school year. Students in grades K-12 throughout the district will have access to electronic devices. (Photos by Kim Brooks)

During the technology rollout events next week, students in grades 7-12 will be given their Chromebook to keep throughout the school year. The purchase of the devices was thanks to the School Foundation, PTO and PPEL fund.
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     Aside from early voting taking place on Wednesday and Thursday, Aug. 15 and 16, parents/guardians and students in grades 7-12 are highly encouraged to attend the 1-to-1 Technology Rollout those evenings as well. Both events will be held at Monticello High School.

     Those in grades 7-9 are asked to come on Aug. 15 at 6:30 p.m. to learn about the 1-to-1 technology initiative and receive their new Chromebooks. Those in grades 10-12 will attend the same program on Aug. 16 at 6:30 p.m.

     The Monticello Community School District requires that parents and students attend the technology rollout events in an effort to learn about the initiative and what’s expected. Parents with students in multiple grade levels should only attend one rollout meeting.

     So what does the 1-to-1 Technology Initiative look like for the MCSD? Each student in grades K-12 will have access to a computer, whether it’s a Chromebook, or iPad. In grades K-2, students will access an iPad each day they arrive at school. The devices will stay in the classrooms for charging and safekeeping. Students in grades 3-6 will access a Chromebook, and like the younger grades, it will remain at school. Students in 7-12 will receive Chromebooks as well, and they will take those home with their after school and on the weekends and will be required to bring them to school each day.

     The 1-to-1 Technology Initiative is something the district’s technology staff has been working on and researching for two years now. Those involved include: Director of technology Curt Tauke, IT Engineer Michael Robertson, District Technology Help Desk Morgan Murray, and Technology Coach Heather Hansen.

     “We started buying Chromebooks two years ago,” said Tauke in preparation for the program.

     The concept is that every Chromebook will be on a three-year cycle. Every three years, the district will purchase all new Chromebooks for a third of the 7-12 student population.

     Tauke said about 50 percent of the school districts in Iowa have implemented a 1-to-1 technology program.

     “That’s the direction education is going,” he said of making sure every student has access to a computer and/or the Internet.

     The MCSD is a Google app district, meaning students, parents and teachers deliver and receive information through “the cloud,” or Google Classroom and Google Drive. Some families may not have access to a computer after the school day ends; this program ensures that all students have access.

     Tauke said the purchase of Chromebooks also cuts down on the cost of keeping a charging station inside each classroom throughout the district.

     “That wasn’t economically feasible,” he said.

     Students in grades 7-12 will be required to bring their Chromebook to school every morning fully charged.

     “It’s like your textbooks that you bring to school every day,” said Tauke. “Now they’ll bring their full-charged Chromebook every day.” Tauke said most teenagers charge their cell phone every night, that charging the Chromebook won't be that much of a hassle.

     Students will receive their Chromebooks in a protective case that allows the device to remain on at all times, even when the case is shut. Tuake said that also cuts down on classroom time where students would turn on their computers and wait for them to boot up.

     The Chromebooks act as a gateway to the Internet, explained Tauke. They work faster than a typically computer because they don’t require a hard drive to store applications on and take up memory or stage space. Google Drive takes the place of Microsoft Office programs such as Word and Excel.

     As part of the technology rollout events, families will also receive the technology handbook, and be asked to sign the waiver inside. Tauke said they would also go over the students and parents responsibilities.

     For those families without Internet at home, Tauke said Mediacom is offering quite a deal for low-income households. For just $10 a month, Mediacom will provide Internet access in those homes that qualify for the program.

     “They’ve been very accommodating,” said Tauke.

     Information on the Mediacom program will also be included in the technology handbook.

     The cost of the Chromebooks is estimated at around $200 each. Various organizations associated with the district helped to fund the 1-to-1 Technology Initative: PTO, Monticello School District Foundation, and PPEL.

     “The Foundation has been a tremendous help,” Tauke praised.

     With so many students accessing the Internet now throughout the middle and high school, the district also spent quite a bit of money to upgrade the Internet systems in both buildings.

     “There will be access points in every classroom for complete (Internet) coverage,” shared Tauke. “There will be a lot of lanes of Internet traffic connecting during the day.”

     Tauke said it was important to get the system in place before the technology rollout.

     “Wiring and cabling needed to be upgraded from the original,” he added.

     Students won’t be handed a Chromebook with unlimited access to the Internet. Tauke said there are programs in place on each device and throughout the district to monitor what the students are doing while using their computers, both in and out of school.

     “The classroom management system (“Hapara”) allows the teachers control over the computers in the classrooms,” explained Tauke. “They can tell what websites the kids are on, almost like ‘Big Brother’ in a way.”

     “Securly” is a web-filtering software program the MCSD is using to flag inappropriate sites that are visited.

     “This will provide the same protection at home and school,” said Tauke.

     Notifications will be sent to the building principal and guidance counselors, as well as Robertson, if a student tries to access something they shouldn’t.

     “They’ll be blocked from getting there,” added Tauke.

     Before starting the technology initiative here, the district sought advice from several other districts in Eastern Iowa, as well as Grant Wood AEA.

     “This will be a change in education,” said Tauke, who sees only great things for students and teachers on the horizon. “This will change how classes are taught, how we assess the students, and more.”

     For questions, contact the District Office at 319-465-5963. And plan to attend the -to-1 Technology Rollout on Aug. 15 and 16.



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