During these times, access to high performing and reliable technology is crucial for Ichabod Crane students and staff. Last spring was a learning experience for our district when New York State school buildings closed for in-person learning. It showed where there were gaps in our instructional technology tools and what skills would need to be developed or strengthened in order to adapt learning in Ichabod for the COVID era.
With those lessons in hand and with the planning time provided by the summer months, this year looks very different for student/staff technology resources and remote learning. Under our current hybrid schedule, many students already spend part of the week remote learning and if we need to shift to a full remote learning schedule, we are prepared to provide students with the means to learn effectively from home.
A challenge we faced when our buildings closed last spring was not having enough learning devices for every single student who would need one for remote learning. In particular, there were not enough devices for all our students in some of the lower grades where, prior to the pandemic, this sort of technology was not as commonly used for learning as in upper grades. We are happy to say that this is no longer the case and we now have enough devices on-site for all K-12 students who would need one under a full remote learning schedule.
Among the stock of student technology we have on hand this year are 1,000+ Chromebooks, 200+ Laptops/Notebooks and 50+ Mifi devices for wireless internet access.
We checked in with Primary School Principal, Andrea Williams, to see how Ms. Williams feels about her building’s ability to effectively shift to remote learning this year if needed. Ms. Williams’ building houses our youngest students (K-3) and it faced some remote learning challenges last spring due to the abrupt shift and the number of available devices.
“We have come a long way since last spring. Our teachers are more confident and knowledgeable about remote teaching and all that goes along with it. With the ongoing professional development and technology support the district provides the teachers, they have strengthened their ability to utilize Google Meets for guided class group lessons and use Seesaw to assign and view activities. Additionally, we now have enough Chromebooks for all our K-3 students who would need one if we shift to remote learning. In fact, we have already deployed devices to those families who would need them in the event that shift happens.”
Students are of course not the only ones in the district with a need for powerful, reliable technology. Our teaching faculty also needs to effectively communicate and connect with their students when they cannot always be in the same physical spaces with them. Like all of our students who need them, we are also pleased to say all the Ichabod teaching faculty have the devices and equipment they need for remote teaching this year. These include:
- Desktop Webcams
- One for every teacher to use for virtual lessons/meetings
- Chromebooks and Notebooks/Laptops
- Grade 4-12 have been provided with notebooks/laptops. Among them are 100 new high-quality touch screen devices
- K-3 faculty have been provided with Chromebooks
In addition to the above devices, the district plans to purchase enough additional notebooks/laptops in the 2021-2022 school year to replace all faculty desktop computers.
Technology Professional Development
Outside of the increased number of technology devices that our faculty can use to connect with students, they now have a better grasp on how to effectively utilize remote learning platforms, software and technology thanks to focused professional development opportunities.
Even during more traditional school years, there has always been a strong group of teacher leaders within all Ichabod schools who constantly keep a pulse on the faculty’s needs. These teacher leaders have been invaluable for identifying when there is a need for additional technology or remote learning platform training, as well as helping teachers investigate which new learning software meets Education Law 2-d student privacy requirements.
Other related efforts the district is making this year is its Instructional Technology Committee and having an onsite Remote Instructional Technology Specialist. The IT Committee has been and continues playing a crucial role in planning and implementing most of the district’s technology initiatives since the pandemic began. Stephanie Carbone, our Remote IT Specialist, has been working with the Ichabod faculty on a continuing basis since this summer. Ms. Carbone has been an invaluable resource for helping teachers leverage technology to enhance instruction and meeting the needs of not only the faculty currently remote teaching, but also preparing teachers who would need to shift to it in the event of building closures.