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Moving Tech Forward, Carefully

Yet Technology progress is up-to-date 

As the Great Neck School District’s technology program progresses, the most up-to-date equipment is reviewed and, if deemed useful, a sample is purchased. But a mass purchase is avoided. 

School District Technology Director Marc Epstein presented a review of the district’s technology at the February board meeting, focusing on the iPad initiative. Seven hundred and fifty iPads were purchased, although the district waited for the second generation.

Board president Barbara Berkowitz explained that the district “keeps tight controls” and is “moderately conservative” in its approach to new technology. “We don’t rush ahead with purchases of unlimited supplies of new technology as it comes out,” she said, adding that the district will “do what it can to enhance class instruction.”

Epstein said that the introduction of technological changes has been “incremental and thoughtful” as time is needed to become accustomed to each change. He noted that the technology committees in each school helped pilot the iPad program in the district. And he then introduced the iPad discussion, reporting that the iPads they have set up are used by the Kindergarten children, yet are sophisticated enough for adult use.

In the school district’s elementary schools, the iPads and the general technology program actually complement the other forms of instruction. 

In the district’s two middle schools, the iPad initiative has been piloted in the sixth grade. This pilot program has basically been developed by the middle school English teachers. This program addresses literacy skills and the common core standards.

At the high school level, the iPad pilot program was initiated at Great Neck North High School, at Great Neck South High School and at the Village School. The ninth grade students at North High piloted the program at their school. Students in the program kept their iPads for seven weeks. Using these iPads in various ways, results saw that the students found the iPads “fun and helpful.” The impact on the learning process was found especially with children “identified” with special needs.

Epstein concluded that the iPads have definitely had a “positive impact on our schools.” Board of education Trustee Donald Ashkenase added that the program has “enhanced the quality of education” at the Great Neck schools.

Berkowitz summed up the district’s approach to technology, stating: “We have a conservative fiscal approach … and, as well, we do not rush into everything new in technology.”