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

The Trumbull County Community Network Project

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

The Trumbull County Community Network Project

Article excerpt

In the early 1990s, the school districts of Trumbull County, OH were similar to most schools in the amount of technology available to teachers, administrators and students. At that time, very few schools in the country had access to significant numbers of computers, and fewer still were wired to the Internet. This paper reports on the project that changed that situation by making an organized effort to infuse technology into K-12 schools. Although this project required a great deal of commitment on the part of the districts involved, that come mitment has resulted in substantial technology integration in the K-12 classrooms in Trumbull County.

The project was conceived by a council established in 1992 with members from area business, industry, government and education dedicated to the creation and organization of a community-based information network. The council, called TCBAC. (Trumbull County Business Advisory Council), spent two years researching possible technologies. The goal was to determine the resources necessary to help K-12 students develop the technological skills needed in Trumbull County's workforce.

In 1994, 100 participants from the community attended a three-day conference to assess hundreds of issues. From this conference, the council identified action plans and committees. The primary goal was the prioritization of a countywide technology plan for the 21st century.

As a result of this planning process, the council proposed to provide a computer lab in every high school in the county, seven distance learning labs, and technology training for approximately 2,400 teachers, administrators and staff. Ultimately, 22 districts participated, including all 20 of the exempted villages, local and city districts, as well as a joint vocational school and a parochial high school. Half of the $4.2 million proposal was to be funded by the schools, local businesses and industries, and local government agencies. The other half was funded by the state of Ohio. The funding was spread out over three years, and the project, named the Trumbull County Community Network (TCCN), began in the fall of 1996.

As part of the support from the various administrations, each district was required to identify technology coordinators and building technology mentors, and to allocate time for training. Districts often had to hire substitutes to relieve teachers and staff members of their duties so they could attend training. This was a significant expense and commitment for participating districts.

The technology coordinators are central to TCCN. They hold monthly countywide meetings to share ideas, provide technical training, and help with the often-overwhelming paperwork required by school districts to receive technology funding from various sources. For example, the e-rate, a result of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, provides telecommunications discounts based on free and reduced lunch counts in the district. It includes cost savings on telephones, connectivity for distance learning labs and the Internet.

Year One

Goals (1996-1997)

The TCCN project required additional staffing at the Trumbull County Educational Service Center. These new positions would provide the administrative and technical infrastructure needed to deliver and support the different phases of the project. Consequently, the funding provided for a director of technology to coordinate the project, a coordinator of broadcast services to design and implement the distance learning labs, a training supervisor to develop and deliver the training, and a technical support position. These positions were designed to work closely with the districts, so a key goal for the first year was to fill them. Other goals for the first year of TCCN included: assisting the districts in completing their technology plans; working with districts to identify the technology coordinators and building technology mentors; identifying the training objectives and establishing a training schedule; designing and implementing the computer and distance learning labs; and establishing a software preview site. …

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