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6. Current Reality

a. Access to Technology

Guidelines / Requirements for compliance in this section (from the Peer-Response Rubric):


Narrative:

Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS) supports the growing need to supply modern technology to every student in our school system. Through previous technology installations, every classroom has been networked, and every classroom includes a networked computer for teacher and student use. In our February 2006 System Technology Inventory Survey, our system counted a total of 9,510 classrooms, and 100% of those classrooms had broadband network connections. Throughout the district, there are a total of 34,674 modern instructional computers providing an instructional computer for every 4.29 students.

For more information on increasing the needs of technology access, see Section 7, Gap Analysis.

Follow this link for summary data from the GCPS State Inventory

New schools and those schools with upgraded technology also receive a "base technology package" that supports the planned activities at the school. For example, each newly constructed or upgraded classroom includes a teacher laptop, a desktop printer, a television, and two network connections. Each school receives media center and administrative office equipment that supports the specific school level (e.g. elementary, middle, or high). Each school can also purchase specific technology improvements or upgrades with local school funds in the pursuit of local instructional activities.

Follow this link for a list of what's included in a new or upgraded school

To gain insight into key areas for technology direction, GCPS also distributes a district-wide survey, called the Perception Survey, to randomly selected students, staff members, parents, and community members. Several questions on the Perception Survey address technology use in the schools, as well as other school environment and instruction topics. As an example of some of the data gathered, the following extract from the 2005 Results-Based Evaluation System are provided, including input from students, that was used in the instructional technology planning process. As you can see, a significant number of people contributed to the data collection for these responses, and reports are also provided to each school with detailed information from their specific constituents:

Question

Data Source

Count

No Response

Don’t Know

Strongly Disagree

Disagree

Agree

Strongly Agree

Mean

During this school year, I increased technology use in the classroom or continued to make extensive use of it as in prior years.

ES Teachers

MS Teachers

HS Teachers

6315

2198

2262

3.0%

3.0%

2.3%

5.2%

4.0%

4.3%

1.8%

1.3%

1.3%

10.0%

11.7%

8.6%

46.0%

45.6%

43.5%

34.0%

34.4%

40.0%

3.22

3.22

3.31

I am satisfied with the technology available for use at my student’s school.

ES Parents

MS Parents

HS Parents

4936

1495

1466

1.5%

1.4%

1.3%

3.9%

4.2%

3.5%

0.8%

1.3%

1.6%

3.4%

7.4%

6.3%

52.0%

53.7%

57.4%

38.5%

32.0%

29.9%

3.35

3.23

3.21

I am satisfied with my student’s computer skills

ES Parents

MS Parents

HS Parents

4936

1495

1466

2.2%

1.5%

1.2%

6.5%

2.8%

1.4%

0.9%

1.7%

1.8%

6.8%

9.8%

8.0%

50.7%

53.3%

53.2%

32.9%

30.9%

34.4%

3.27

3.19

3.24

My computer skills have increased at this school.

ES Students

MS Students

HS Students

9233

8453

6005

1.9%

2.2%

2.7%

10.1%

9.2%

7.3%

5.6%

11.7%

11.4%

13.5%

24.4%

27.5%

34.8%

33.7%

33.8%

34.1%

18.9%

17.2%

3.11

2.68

2.63

My teachers help me learn more about how to use a computer to find information I need for reports and research.

ES Students

MS Students

HS Students

9233

8453

6005

0.9%

0.9%

0.9%

5.5%

6.3%

5.9%

4.2%

9.8%

12.3%

11.3%

25.1%

31.6%

40.0%

44.9%

39.4%

38.1%

13.1%

9.9%

3.20

2.66

2.50

Technology access, therefore, is not as much of a challenge as the quality of the instructional technology experience. While parents and teachers are satisfied with their experience with instructional technology, students show a declining perception of the impact of instructional technology in their educational process. While parents and teachers are satisfied with their experience with instructional technology, students show a declining perception of the impact of instructional technology in their educational process. As many students are classified as digital natives, their perception of technology is often times much more advanced than their parents and teachers.  This finding demonstrates that the district has room for growth concerning the implementation of further technology enhancements such as online applications and multimedia resources. 

Previous gap analyses led to the implementation of an upgraded technology model, including high-speed internet access, switched-to-desktop infrastructure, and laptops for all elementary and Special Education teachers. This has significantly increased the student access capability to modern computers in the classroom. Teachers are continually trained on the use of technology as it is deployed by local school staff members whose sole function is to integrate technology into the classroom.

GCPS is also in the midst of a phase of major renovation of technical infrastructure and computer technology. During the previous three years, our response to the technology access gap was the implementation of networked computers in every GCPS classroom, laptop rollouts, increased network capacity to every school, and switched-to-desktop classroom connections. Our current focus is on expanding teacher and student access through the retrofitting of all high schools and improving computer lab technology throughout the district.

To prepare for technology upgrade initiatives, technology “tiers” have been developed to identify school capabilities. The goal for GCPS is to eventually provide Tier 5 access to all schools, depending upon funding availability across multiple years.

Tier 1

Access capabilities: Tier 1 provides baseline access to Email, Internet, SIS, StART from school over a shared environment.

Technology: Novell network operating systems with a hub (shared) infrastructure

Tier 2

Access capabilities: Tier 2 leverages the district's broadband network to the school and increases speed to the classroom by providing a dedicated pipe to each classroom.

Technology: Move from hub (shared) to switched infrastructure

Tier 3

Access capabilities: Tier 3 provides significantly improved throughput to each student computer in the school and provides the network infrastructure to allow access to instructional applications over the network.

Technology: Increase network bandwidth to the school to a minimum of 1 Gb/s by moving to a fiber optic based network in a dedicated physical link.

Tier 4

Access capabilities: Tier 4 provides more extensive capabilities for centralized management and for the overall security of the network.

Technology: Move from Novell to Active Directory

Tier 5

Access capabilities: Tier 5 upgrades the end user technology to the current standards and leverages the Tier III architecture, which provides the capability of accessing the latest, most effective instructional applications such as River Deep, NCS Learn, and Read 180 as well as providing centralized media distribution, video conferencing and digital high definition broadcasts.

Technology: Provide computers that are configured to utilize the increased network capacity and services as provided by the GCPS WAN and Internet technologies.
Tier 7 Access capabilities: In Tier 7, a portal offers a secure single point of access for teachers to remotely access from home a limited set of key applications and email.

For more information on increasing the needs of technology access, see Section 7, Gap Analysis.

 


Copyright 2006 Gwinnett County Public Schools. All Rights Reserved.
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