10. Communication and Marketing
a. Communication / Marketing
Guidelines / Requirements for compliance in this section (from the Peer-Response Rubric):
- Strategies for the following are provided: sharing progress, disseminating evaluation results, encouraging broad stakeholder involvement, and marketing the role technology can play in helping students achieve the QCC in innovative ways.
Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS) uses a wide variety of media and channels to communicate its diverse technology programs and activities to stakeholders, including teachers, media specialists, administrators, parents, students, local government, business, public libraries, adult literacy providers, and other community members and organizations. GCPS technology successes are communicated:
Through this Technology Plan. Once this 2006-2009 Technology Plan has been approved, it and the State Technology Plan will be made available to the entire school system via a Web site.
Through the GCPS Web Site. The GCPS web site provides a public information-distribution point with official school information, planning proposals, budget summaries, board meeting agendas, and many other resources, along with instructional technology information.
In the OMP. Gwinnett County Public Schools requires each of its divisions to develop an Operational Management Plan (OMP). The goals articulated in this 2006-2009 Technology Plan are included fully in the OMP for the Division of Information Management.
In the AKS. The pivotal role of technology in the successful implementation of Gwinnett County’s Academic Knowledge and Skills (AKS) curriculum is clearly stated and fully accepted across the system. Parents, community members, and students all review these standards at several points during the school year and are provided opportunities to give feedback and/or suggest new standards.
Through Perception Surveys. Valuable feedback from stakeholders and strategic partners is obtained on a regular basis through community feedback tools and GCPS-developed perception surveys. These instruments generate feedback from parents, teachers, and students throughout the county. Georgann Eaton, Coordinator of Research and Accountability, reports that, when she first became principal of a school, these perception surveys revealed to her that technology was an area of concern with staff, students, parents, and the community. She met with her Local School Technology Coordinator (LSTC) and Technology Support Technician (TST), identified the perception gap, and developed a plan to increase the visibility of how technology was being used. Coincidentally, the next rollout in the district added wireless capability and an upgrade from Microsoft Windows 95 to Microsoft Windows XP. An important part of Eaton’s plan was to communicate the improvements to parents. The school used its newspaper every week to talk about new technology. Articles described the new computer labs and new capabilities. Some computers were moved into the school’s atrium so they would be more visible to visitors entering the building. Parents and other visitors were encouraged to try AutomaticReader and SuccessMaker at night after school and even on weekends.
Through School Councils. Every school within GCPS has its own school council. A school council must be comprised of at least two members from the community, multiple business partners, parents, teachers, and an administrator. One of the regular items on a school council’s agenda is a discussion of what the local school is doing to maximize the educational use of technology. School councils not only provide excellent community feedback, but also are powerful avenues for involving community support for technology additions and improvements above and beyond the scheduled district rollouts.
Through Business Partnerships. Virtually every GCPS school has a business partner. Those business partnerships involve a lot of back and forth efforts. Business partners give of their time and expertise, but usually become so involved in what is going on in the schools that they become major communicators to the public about technology activities in the schools. For example, Norcross High School is partnered with several technology companies. The companies help the Norcross robotics team create robotics for engineering-related projects and competitions for students seeking experience in engineering fields.
Through Technology Fairs. LSTCs have been responsible for organizing and promoting technology fairs at most schools. Some are major, all-day affairs. Others are in connection with PTA meetings. All create opportunities for parents to see first-hand the teaching and learning that is happening through technology in their local schools.
Through Monthly Public School Board Meetings. The GCPS Board of Education conducts monthly meetings which are open to the public. Work sessions, also open to the public, are held before the Board meetings. GCPS staff come to the work sessions and make presentations. There have been presentations on the district Student Assessment Reporting Tool, or StART. There have been presentations on the technology plan to help the Board understand the different areas of technology and information management and how all that comes together. At the Board meetings, citizens have the opportunity to address the Board.
Through Area Board Meetings. Every spring, the Board holds meetings in the five County districts to talk about teaching and learning, future plans, and budget. Information on technology is especially critical in the discussion of building plans. Proposed technology expenditures are major costs of every new construction project.
Through E-mails to Parents. Technology has been a helpful enabler of on-going parent-teacher communication. The system’s online capabilities have made it possible for teachers to send out regular e-mails to inform parents on their children's progress. Through that same medium, parents can ask specific questions of the teacher instead of just wondering about homework, projects, or test grades.
Through GCPS-TV. Technology advances within the school system are featured regularly on GCPS-TV. This publicly broadcast television channel provides internally- and externally-developed programming 24/7. In an average year, GCPS-TV carries 90-100 programs or segments on technology aspects within the schools.
Through School Accountability Reports. The GCPS central office takes every opportunity to include technology advances and achievements in its School Accountability Reports. Particularly in the Highlights section, local schools report positive strides and innovative methods for using technology. School Accountability Reports are distributed in print and are available on the system’s web site. Click here to view Appendix D: School Accountability Reports.
Through Public Libraries. GCPS also partners with the public libraries of Gwinnett County. Each spring, school media specialists at the elementary and middle school levels compete to see which school can sign up the most students for the libraries’ Summer Reading Program. The school system also partners with the libraries on a program called Gwinnett Reads. This year students read To Kill a Mockingbird. Students made posters, published a book of student poetry, and had a celebration at one of the library branches. This program is highly dependent on a technology connection between the schools and the libraries.
Through the News Media. Individual schools occasionally provide technology event notification for distribution throughout the district via a weekly "tip sheet." . Along with regular news releases, the tip sheet program has been responsible for news features on technology fairs, robotics competitions, and other ways Gwinnett County schools are using technology to help better educate their students.
Through the IMD Annual Report. An annual report for the Division of Information Management is scheduled to be developed during the 2008 school year. This report will detail progress on technology initiatives within Gwinnett County Public Schools. This will include new technology uses as well as status points on existing and increasing technology uses.