Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Audio Enhancement is Coming to your Classroom

As part of the bond program, audio enhancement will be installed in most BVSD classrooms to help teachers and students hear each other better. The need for audio enhancement was identified by the Capital Improvement Planning Committee (CIPC) for inclusion in the bond master plan.

Whittier 7.jpgAmy Lears, BVSD Audiologist, explains the vision for audio enhancement as a system that “allows for both teachers and students to amplify their voices. Students who tend to be more soft spoken and or shy will be able to use the microphone so all in the learning community can hear their voices, helping them participate and gain confidence in oracy.”

In her work, she encounters research about the meaningful impact of this technology on learning. She explains that “numerous studies have shown the benefit of classroom amplification on standardized test scores, spelling, reading fluency, phonological awareness, math skills and concept understanding, classroom behavior, attention and on task behavior, and increased classroom discussion participation.” Read more about audio enhancement research and background for additional resources.

The audio enhancement systems will be replacing and modernizing the current Calypso systems for sound in the classroom. Part of this change includes an upgrade to a single HDMI wall connection which will replace the two VGA wall connections. The advantages of HDMI (digital) over VGA (analog) include:
  • carries audio and video in a single cable
  • has flush connector pins that do not bend or break
  • has higher quality video output

This upgrade will require changes to many digital devices as well. Most old desktops and document cameras use VGA connections and require a converter in addition to the existing splitter to work with audio enhancement. This leads to a complicated setup that requires several cables and power sources that many would find daunting to use.

After research and testing, the Bond, Ed Tech, and IT teams have concluded that the best course of action moving forward is to adjust the Employee Technology Tools schedule to coincide with the audio enhancement installations. This means that your old desktop and document camera (if you currently have one) will be replaced with a new Chromebook (or an HDMI Windows laptop for CS, Engineering and Digital Arts) and USB document camera when audio enhancement is installed.

This new setup will:
  • simplify the teacher experience in connecting devices to project
  • eliminate converters/dongles/splitters
  • reduce setup and troubleshooting time
  • add a path for future connectivity to 4K TVs
BHGT 20.jpgI can't underestimate the change involved with this transition. With that in mind, IT will be working closely with the Bond office and key school staff to ensure teachers have the support and training needed for a smooth transition. More information will be available soon, as the install for audio enhancement for Phase 1 schools is going on now and will most likely begin for Phase 2 schools this summer.

The possibilities this technology provides for all of our BVSD students will continue to enhance instruction and learning opportunities in meaningful ways as it is implemented across the district.

Please chime in below with your thoughts.


Monday, February 13, 2017

District Technology Advisory Committee Update (Feb 2017)

Educational technology resources and the opportunities afforded through these tools are forever expanding and changing. In the last five years, BVSD has seen an increase in access, digital devices, and resources that provide an engaging and modern learning environment for students.

With that in mind, I understand and value the varying perspectives of our stakeholders with the implementation of these tools, including views from our students, teachers, administrators, district leaders, parents and community members. Due to the accelerated rates of change, these stakeholders often times have both collaborative and conflicting views of technology in our schools.

Because of these rapid changes, varying perspectives, and continued shifts, I felt it to be the right time to develop a sustainable organization that could provide guidance on how technology and resources are decided, deployed, and utilized in our schools and classrooms. This includes the business side of education with regards to infrastructure and security. You can read about the background in my post from December.

I sent out an email in December of 2016 to gather interest for this committee only to find that we had over 230 stakeholders interested! I worked with my team to select a representative balance of community members, parents, business leaders, BVSD teachers, administrators, and most importantly, students (view the DTAC Roster). We also formed an online forum for those not selected to continue to provide feedback and insight to the work of the committee.

The District Advisory Technology Committee (DTAC) launched on January 23rd with an overview of current and future IT services, infrastructures, programs and projects. These included updates on IT Network upgrades, expansion of 1:Web in our high schools, student data security and privacy updates, and budget information. Members were then provided an opportunity to discuss their ideas of the most critical conversations for this committee to consider in future meetings. You can review their responses here.

I will continue to share agendas and notes from each DTAC meeting on our website to maintain transparency of the work that this committee will complete and the guidance they will provide.

If you have thoughts, ideas or suggestions, please chime in below.


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

District Technology Advisory Committee

BP2 8.jpg
As technology usage continues to expand in BVSD, the discussions and collaborations on how technology is implemented become more important. With that in mind, I’m excited to announce a new advisory committee opportunity for Teachers, Administrators, Students, Parents, Community Members, and Education Center Staff. The District Technology Advisory Committee (DTAC) will launch in January of 2017.

When I arrived at the district in 2010, the ITGC (IT Governance Committee) was up and running. It was largely a group of community members who were helping the district navigate IT communications and change in a period before cloud computing, Chromebooks, 1:Web, security (malware, ransomware, DDoS attacks, etc), and student data privacy were common topics. ITGC disbanded in 2011 after the issues of the day were resolved.

In late 2011, the Boulder Valley School District (BVSD) created the Educational Technology Leadership Council (ETLC) to consider and recommend a vision for the future of educational technology within BVSD. Through the work of this council, initiatives such as the 21st Century Cohort, 1:Web and Innovative Learning Spaces began to take shape as this group determined the ideal learning environment while using technology in BVSD.

As IT & Ed Tech continue to improve on these initiatives, as well as explore the implementation of data privacy laws into existing structures, it is time to form a next generation District Technology Advisory Committee for the 2016-17 school year.

Blazey Math7 03.08.16.JPGThis ad-hoc committee will primarily provide guidance on current shifts in learning and the use of technology. This will include work in the following areas:
  • Data Security & Privacy
  • Digital Access & Equity
  • Resourcing/Budgeting
  • Digital Citizenship & Balance
  • Professional Development
  • Digital Communications Structure and Content

Meetings will be from 4:30-6:30 pm at the BVSD Information Technology offices at 6600 Arapahoe Rd. 2016-2017 meeting dates are:
  • Monday, January 23, 2016
  • Tuesday, March 7, 2017
  • Wednesday, May 10, 2017

We have developed a short application to help form a diverse team representative of district stakeholders:
  • Teachers
  • Administrators
  • Students
  • Parents
  • Community Members
  • Education Center Staff

If you are interested in participating on the District Technology Advisory Committee for the 2016-17 school year, please fill out the application no later than Dec 31st. Parents, please collaborate with your students to fill out the application if they are interested in participating. Thank you!