"We must prepare our students for their future, not our past." (quote by David Thornburg)
In June 2006 the Oak Park community voted a resounding “YES” on a 17.5 million dollar Prop 39 Bond Measure C6 for safety, equipment and technology, affirming the commitment and desire for OPUSD to provide 21st century technology for our 21st century learners. The passing of the C6 bond speaks volumes about our community’s commitment to reestablishing excellence in educational technology, as well as acknowledging the need for our district to renew and revamp its infrastructure and hardware.
The bond altered the finance and budget aspect of the Education Technology Plan and the resulting funds afforded many new avenues leading to our new technology vision, based on the guiding question, “How is this going to change the way we teach, the way we learn and the way we communicate in Oak Park?”
The bond enabled the district to pursue a new initiative to equip each classroom with the technology tools to enable teachers to better engage students and enhance the learning experience. Each 21st Century Classroom included:
• 77” interactive whiteboard with integrated DLP projector (SMARTboard)
• teacher laptop (Apple MacBook) • document camera
• class set of student response devices (SMART Responders)
Teachers were invited to participate in a year long training program, called 21st Century Classroom Teachers and received the equipment alongside the training provided through 21stCC training cohorts when they were accepted into the program.
Districtwide networking infrastructure upgrades were also initiated in 2007, including:
- Migrated from the PC platform to the Mac platform.
- Replaced workstations district-wide with Macs.
- All district sites recabled with Cat5e cable
- Replaced all LAN switching equipment with new Cisco switches
- Implemented a fiber optic WAN network backbone
- Implemented district-wide wireless access.
- Replaced servers district-wide, centralizing operations at the district office.
- Implemented multi-tier data backup solution
- Restructured Tech Department
- Centralized tech staff at district Tech Department office
- Added an outsourced Network Administrator position
- Redesigned and expanded district Tech Department office that now houses our centralized data center
- Implemented an online HelpDesk ticket system
- Migrated to a new district-wide CMS model website with Web2.0 features
- Defined and documented best practices for Tech Department functions
The most significant change since September 2007 is the change in District culture in regard to technology. It is evident that the OPUSD stakeholders now believe that the technology is here to serve them in support of our mission to educate tomorrow’s leaders.
We are at the tipping point of what may prove to be the largest paradigm change in the history of education. Technology has been the catalyst to sweeping societal changes. We are connected and we are global. Information is available instantly, usually from a device that we can carry in our pocket. Moore’s Law has proven valid, as we witness the exponential acceleration of technology.
Our students, the digital natives, have never known a world without cell phones, computers or Internet access. The digital social network is part of their “norm”. At home they are connected…global…authors…publishers…problem-solvers… collaborators… and multitaskers. They have a voice and a global audience. There have been many articles and even entire books dedicated to the discussion of whether or not their brains are “wired differently”. In many cases, this continual immersion in digital, social experiences has altered the way they react to the traditional classroom setting. In OPUSD, we believe that we need to adapt the learning landscape to address our digital natives and the way they learn. Our teachers’ high degree of attention to providing our students with an engaging, differentiated and meaningful curriculum is at the core of our vision. Our 21st Century Classroom initiative is reshaping point of instruction and engaging our students in classroom instruction and activities that place students in the role of being connected… global… authors… publishers… problem-solvers… collaborators… and multitaskers.