Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

October 15, 2013

Computer initiative in full swing at BHS and BMS


The Batesville Herald-Tribune

---- — The Batesville Community School Corp. technology vision “is to provide today’s students with the skills and tools for tomorrow’s success,” report Jackie Huber, director of instructional technology curriculum, and Mike Weiler, director of information technology support.

“In order to successfully prepare our students for the 21st century, 1:1 technology is vital for all students. Computers in the hands of students open a world of learning opportunities. The school corporation’s commitment is to provide 1:1 technology to all students by 2014.

The first phase began in August 2012 at Batesville High School and the second phase started at Batesville Middle School this past August.

Taira Lynch, BHS science teacher, believes that the laptops “are preparing them for the world outside of K-12. Upon entering college and/or the workforce, students are faced with computers. Our students have an advantage over others because they will already have the knowledge of how to properly maneuver through applications and utilize the Internet for information.”

The BCSC Technology Department prepared and distributed 1,300 computers to students in grades 6-12 during the first week of school. All BMS students received 11-inch MacBook Air laptops. BHS students received 13-inch MacBook Airs. They also received computer bags so the devices are protected.

Technology employees began preparing for 1:1 24 months before the laptops were given to the students. Improvements to the infrastructure included adding Meraki wireless access points in each classroom and larger group areas along with increased Internet bandwidth to 215 megabytes. Additional technology staff members were added this year to support the initiative at both schools.

The independent study AppleCare IT class expanded to include 26 students to support both BHS and BMS HelpDesk areas. These students have opportunities to learn about technology support and can work toward Apple certification. Two IT staff members have

completed ACMT (Apple Certified Mac Technician) certification, allowing them to complete warranty repairs on the student laptops, saving money for the corporation.

In order to prepare for the 1:1 classroom, teachers were provided technology training ahead of time. This training included integrating tools and technology resources into the curriculum. Summer technology training sessions included topics such as using My Big Campus (the BCSC learning management system), Apple applications in math and language arts, and integration ideas.

Training sessions were conducted for all students during the first days of school to orient them with the laptops, Mac operating system and My Big Campus use. Information sessions were offered to parents prior to school’s start. They were also invited to attend a session using the My Big Campus parent portal.

My Big Campus allows students and teachers to share classroom resources. The teachers communicate classroom information through announcements or the student e-mail provided. Classroom resources are available for the students to download and access on their computer, such as notes, videos and worksheets. The students also receive and submit assignments and assessments through My Big Campus. According to Lynch, “The information available to students in all classes has increased dramatically. Aside from having a calendar with instant access to every due date in every class, and the ability to message their teachers at any moment with any concern and/or question they may have, they have access to a multitude of resources in every class.

Many teachers, along with their normal assignments, post educational animations/videos to aid in understanding, and some teachers record lectures so students can review concepts again using flip instruction.”

Parents are able to log into My Big Campus to access information regarding class assignments and communications. Parent access to PowerSchool provides the parents with information about grades and attendance.

Visitors walking down BHS and BMS halls will find enhanced teaching and learning experiences because of the addition of the laptops. Lynch notes, “Aside from the obvious reduction in paper; the laptops help students stay better informed and organized. In the classroom you will find students using the laptops to research information, type notes or reports; completing and submitting assignments electronically; and watching instructional videos. They also communicate, collaborate with classmates and manage their activities and homework electronically.”

BHS Spanish teacher, Joy Lake, maintains, “Having a laptop in every student’s hands has brought the Spanish-speaking world into the classroom. Our students are able to take virtual field trips to other countries and can see firsthand the running of the bulls in Pamplona (Spain) or scale Machu Picchu (Peru) or visit a Day of the Dead celebration in Oaxaca (Mexico).” The students also prepare for and complete assessments, such as Acuity, NWEA and ECA, on the laptop.

Sue Pieczonka, BMS language arts teacher, states more technology in the classroom “has increased my students’ accessibility to many programs that foster an increase of learning. Due to each student having his or her own computer, it not only assists them with preparing for online ISTEP tests, but also increases creativity and promotes improvement in vocabulary, language conventions and various writing activities.”