Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

Florida School District Teams Technology with Training

Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

Florida School District Teams Technology with Training

Article excerpt

Lee County is located on the quiet side of Florida, on the lower Southwest coast of a state usually associated with wide beaches, palm trees and a laid-back lifestyle. Despite the area's low key atmosphere, the School District of Lee County was one of the earliest Florida counties to marshal resources and join the technology revolution.

The district's breakthrough program began with a 1991 commitment to provide computer access for teachers, administrators and the district's 50,000 students. The superintendent and school board members established development of a "Five-Year Technology Plan" as one of its five priorities for 1991. A Technology Task Force utilized participatory planning that involved over 90 district staff and community representatives. Task force members established equipment and standards, determined software programs to be supported, and committed to independent training of teachers. They approached the project in three phases (see Figure 1).

* The Five-Year Technology Plan

One goal of the plan was to install core technology in all elementary, middle, high and specialty-center schools. It comprised:

* A teacher workstation for all instructional staff, including color monitor, printer and CD-ROM drive;

* An administrative workstation for each principal and assistant principal;

* Shared multimedia peripherals consisting of a projection device, scanner, VCR, videodisc player and digital still-shot camera;

* Five computers per elementary classroom;

* One 15-workstation lab in each elementary school, two 15-workstation labs in each middle school, and five 30-workstation labs in each high school;

* Software budget of $60 per student FTE;

* Funding for district-specified electronic mail and productivity software and for a school-selected grade management package; and

* Full-building wiring to facilitate staff communication and data sharing.

Aside from hardware and software details, the Five-Year Technology Plan identified professional development as its most critical component since teachers and administrators are not likely to embrace technology if they do not understand how it can help restructure today's schools.

Two recommendations were made for staff training initiatives:

* Develop a technology training plan to address the technology competencies required by all staff--from teacher to administrator to support staff; and

* Allocate at least $100 per FTE each year for technology education for staff. This was in addition to any training provided to the schools by hardware and software vendors.

The Five-Year Technology Plan was published, distributed and approved by the school board members. Funding was secured through Certificates of Participation, competitive grants and school improvement funds. Attention then focused on the importance of training.

The Staff Development Center (SDC) was moved to a large office located in the central services building. Space was designated for three training rooms. Two are technology labs; one is IBM-based and the other has Macs, both of which are necessary to meet the training needs of our dual-platform district. An administrator was added to coordinate training, and support personnel. Present staff includes a director, three administrators, two teachers-on-assignment, five support staff and four part-time employees.

Representative members from Curriculum Services, Media Services, Staff Development, MIS and teachers from elementary, middle, high and vocational schools designed the delivery system for instructional technology training.

* Delivery System for Staff Development

Lee County's Staff Development Plan strives to assist implementation of inservice programs that will improve student performance and enhance the work environment for employees. Training opportunities are structured on four levels of involvement:

Awareness: receiving basic information

on a selected strategy. …

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