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School District Technology Plan Approved

Plan Would Replace Old Desktops with Netbooks, iPads

The Mineola School District’s multiyear technology plan came to its conclusion at the end of the 2010-2011. Saying that the district was effectively now in year 6 of a 5-year cycle, Superintendent Dr. Michael Nagler presented a new multiyear technology plan to the board of education at a previous meeting at the Willis Avenue School.

“The concept here is you go back to year one, stay within the same budget as year one and replace things that are now 5 years old,” Dr. Nagler said.

The list of equipment to be replaced includes 35 printers, 100 desktops, and 21 projectors. While the printers are going to be replaced with networked options, iPads and Netbooks will be the successors to desktops.

Dr. Nagler posed the question of the 1:1 initiative to the board where each student could be given a laptop for the cost of replacing the 100 desktops and the necessity of having dedicated computer labs “because every classroom now is a lab, in theory.”

An alternative would be “a combination of these as we start to replace equipment is something we have to grapple with and move ahead with,” he said, with one unknown factor being the impact on the district’s wireless network. The administration will be examining the middle school next year due to the heavy investments being made in those grades.

As part of the new five-year program the district will be purchasing 250 Netbooks, 90 iPads (30 additional iPads using grant money) joining the 100 that currently are in the district, 20 network printers (12 color, eight black and white), two servers and 10 WAPS (wireless access points), which allow the district to filter the Internet in the buildings.

A unique feature of the printers on the elementary levels is a queue system that “holds” each print job until that person walks over and uses their ID card to retrieve it, wiping it from the queue if not retrieved in a certain period of time. The new printers would also allow wireless printing from iPads.

The new multiyear plan is more expensive than the previous one, costing $47,000 in year one, whereas the first year in the previous plan cost $41,000.

“I want to make sure the investments we make in equipment are going to be on target when we see what the future holds,” the superintendent said. “Technology is very difficult when you plan for the future because it moves quickly as it progresses and education tends to move painfully slow as it progresses. So when you put those two phenomena together, they don’t always jibe.”

According to the Horizon Report, a document that analyzed technology in the K-12 education environment, a sharp rise in mobile and “cloud” computing is expected to occur within the next school year.

“We’re already there,” Dr. Nagler said. “That’s something where we’re ahead of the game.”

The report also indicates that more game-based learning is expected to occur in two to three years, according to Nagler. This coming school year, Mineola will be piloting a program for a company, which has developed a game on photosynthesis using Nintendo DS handheld devices in the middle school.

“They’re trying to see if with the gaming are kids more apt to learn the concept of photosynthesis,” the superintendent said. “They asked us to use our students as testers for this program.”

The company will be collecting data for a period of several weeks, and then remove the devices from the classrooms. Students will require parental permission to participate.

Mineola would also have a new webpage, which Dr. Nagler said he would speak about in September. The new design would reportedly allow for social media and local content, handing in homework assignments and parental log-ins.