Northeast determines district technology needs – Clinton Herald

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Updated: January 30, 2022 @ 10:06 am
Clinton, Iowa

GOOSE LAKE — After nine months of listening to a variety of stakeholders, the Northeast School District’s Technology Taskforce unveiled a proposal that went beyond the nuts and bolts of what kind of computers to buy.
The group earlier this month presented the school board with a four-pronged plan that addresses hardware and software needs, looks at the skills and training that would most benefit students and teachers to take advantage of those tools, and promotes making sure websites and other connective technology – whether for student/teacher or parent/school communication – is meaningful, helpful and used consistently.
The technology taskforce began meeting last spring, and it includes a diverse group of stakeholders, said Jeremy Heeringa, Northeast’s middle and high school assistant principal who headed the committee. That was by design.
“The big picture is that we (administrators) make decisions to try to figure out what is the best technology for our students on a daily basis in our district,” he said at the school board meeting. However, district administrators thought they could make better decisions if they included more voices in the planning process.
So, the committee talked with students, parents, community members, teachers and administrators, so “we could make a plan that has everyone’s voice,” Heeringa said.
He was joined in his presentation by Chase Burken, a senior, and Brenna Meyermann, a sophomore, who were student representatives on the task force.
The group considered hardware and software and how both would look in the classroom and alter teaching and learning.
No new funding is attached to the proposal. Rather, when plans are being made on how to spend money on technology, the proposal will provide guidelines that were created with input from many to guide those decisions.
“It essentially is a technology roadmap,” Heeringa said.
The committee addressed four main topics: purchase items, training, tools, and what will happen in the future.
Among its major recommendations are to replace smartboards that are more than 10 years old, provide touchscreen Chrome books to all elementary school students, and to provide training for teachers so they can use software and hardware efficiently and stay up-to-date with new ideas. It also addresses the need for students to have solid typing skills, something they will use for school, testing and later in the work force. In addition, the group addressed developing a way to make the website more accessible to parents.
In its report, the committee outlined each proposal as well as the rationale behind it. For example, to support its recommendation that all elementary school students have touchscreens on their school-issued laptops, it said, “Our students, especially the younger grades, could be more proficient and efficient if they had touchscreens. Mouse pads are a struggle for lower levels.” Currently three of the lower grade levels don’t have access to touchscreens.
One of the recommendations is to possibly implement training at lower grade levels to allow students to gain the typing skills as they move into higher grades where more writing is expected. The committee found there’s frustration among students when needing to type, a skill required to enter the workforce or to take tests.
As Heeringa noted, older generations took typing class as part of the regular school curriculum. That’s no longer the case.
“One of the possible solution is to have 30 minutes a week of typing practice. Ten minutes, three times a week. That’s something we are looking into for next year,” he said.
That’s one example of the taskforce’s desire to give people the skills to better use technology, Heeringa said.
While the task force’s work is complete, the group will meet next year to make sure purchases and decisions are in alignment with the recommendations, Heeringa said.

Carey M. Christoff, 56, of Clinton passed away Thursday, January 27, 2022 at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. Services are being planned for spring at the Camanche Chapel Snell-Zornig Funeral Homes & Crematory.

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