Paul Garofano, technology director for the Edgemont Union Free School District, provided the board of education’s May 23 meeting with a short synopsis of the new technology plan the district looks to implement for fall 2018 through 2021.
According to the presentation, the vision for the new plan is to prepare students to be “lifelong learners who are ethical and responsible digital citizens.”
“Edgemont students will be able to use information communications technologies, or ICTs, to communicate in a variety of modes, solve problems creatively, retrieve and manage information, think critically, remain flexible and continue to learn,” Garofano said. “They will be self-directed learners able to adapt and thrive in a rapidly changing world.”
The presentation said the vision for the district’s technology plan aligns with the administration and board’s strategic goals — goals which include educating the whole child and encouraging students to be good global citizens.
Garofano said the process to create a new plan began approximately four months ago. The technology department used two committees to develop the plan — a technology plan subcommittee responsible for writing the plan and a technology action plan subcommittee responsible for the implementation of that plan.
The tech supervisor explained the technology plan laid out the overarching visions and goals for the district while the action plan hammered home some of the specific areas within the district through which the plan’s goal could be completed.
Apart from the aforementioned visions statement, the technology plan includes six goals broken down into two key components.
The first component is teaching and learning infrastructure, which encompass four of the six goals. The first two of those goals ask both the teachers and students use information communications technologies — such as various learning apps used during instruction — to provide better classroom learning.
The remaining goals ask that teachers and students are responsible digital citizens and that teachers use the ICTs to enhance professional development.
The second component is technical infrastructure, which includes the remaining two goals. Both goals ask the network, hardware and tech support be at its best so that teachers and students can properly use the technology to enhance classroom learning, teaching and professional development.
The technology action plan focuses on specific areas through which the plan can complete the goals outlined in the overall technology plan.
Those areas include the district’s growing 1:1 program — that, at its peak, will allow every student to have a laptop during instruction, coding and robotics courses — and STEAM — Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Math electives.
According to Garofano, the new plan seeks to comply with mandates from the state education department.
The tech supervisor said previous plans and state mandates focused more on infrastructure within the school district while, going forward, the state would like to see districts focus more on instructional
“The state is recognizing a lot of school districts, particularly because of the Smart School fund, bolstered their infrastructure and a lot of districts need to refocus on instructional technology,” Garofano said.
The 2014 Smart School Bond Act authorized the issuance of $2 billion to districts across New York to help bolster educational technology and infrastructure.
Garofano said the district is in great shape as many of its teachers in charge of leading the way for instructional technology — also known as teacher leaders — are excelling in their roles.
School board member Monica Sganga asked Garofano what the district is doing about some teachers who may be reluctant to get on board with instructional technology.
“How are the teachers embracing this goal and what percentage of those that should be embracing it are actual doing so?,” Sganga asked.
“I would say that every teacher is embracing ICTs,” Garofano said. “Just like when teachers embrace any new initiative, there are varying degrees with which they embrace it.”
Sganga reiterated some teachers are simply averse to using the new technology. She asked if the technology department is having trouble getting reluctant teachers to get on board with the ICT program.
“I’ve been noticing at Seely that, at this point, if you’re a teacher that’s really not on board the kids are not really going to let you not be on board,” Seely Place Elementary School Principal Carol Bartlik said.
Bartlik said students as young as 5 and 6 are eager to help their fellow classmates effectively use the apps and technology during class time even if their teacher may not be as well versed in the programs.
“At this point — in Seely anyway — there is no one that is not at least somewhat on board,” she said.
Greenville Elementary School Principal Jennifer Allen recalled, in prior years, a couple of teachers found the use of a smart board in the classroom tough. However, she said, those teachers found technology is such an important part of what they’re doing that everyone is on board is some way.
Garofano only provided a short snapshot of what the new technology plan will be going forward. The full plan, he said, must be first approved by the lower Westchester Boards of Cooperative Educational Services, then sent to the state for approval.
The state has until Oct. 26 to approve the plan. Once it is approved, the district will make the full plan available on the district website for parents and the rest of the community to see.