2014-03-07 / Community

School’s technology ‘roadmap’ revealed

By Alex Acquisto
Staff Writer

KENNEBUNK — Jamie Jensen, director of information technology services for Regional School Unit 21, presented a proposal to the school board on Monday night for one-to-one technology at Kennebunk High School.

Jensen also proposed that the high school shift to Acer Google Chrome laptops at the start of next school year.

In what he referred to as “a roadmap for the next three years,” Jensen presented state-mandated guidelines when planning for student use of technology.

Planning guidelines include collaboration with adult literacy providers, accountability measures and innovative delivery strategies.

In the past three years, increased computer access in grades three through six and in English classes at Kennebunk High School, Jensen reported, has impacted classroom instruction positively.

“Digital workflow solutions are important to the successful integration of technology ... technology integration occurs when technology is ubiquitous,” Jensen said.

The Acer Chrome book that Jensen proposed be issued to high school students does not have an operating system, rather it is cloud-based and “uses Chrome web apps as opposed to an operating system,” Jensen told board members. “It’s a backdoor to the Internet, but in a scholarly fashion.”

Group capabilities such as Google Moderator and Google Docs would allow students to have access to a web-based commentary when listening to a lesson or working on a group project, Jensen said.

Google Chrome books, per unit, are approximately $270 — about $99,000, annually. Through grants given by the Maine Learning Technology Initiative, there is a possibility of getting an additional $20,000 to offset the purchase. Through the MLTI contract at the middle school, the unit price of the iPad is $266 with an annual cost of $70,224. The middle school has a four-year contract with the Apple products.

“Do you have an estimate on the class offerings? What percent of teachers will embrace this?” asked board member Matt Fadiman.

“I’d say 100 percent. They can all use this in the classroom,” Jensen said.

“What’s shifted so much to reconsider the iPad? I’d like to know more about the Chrome book,” said Fadiman, who alluded to the fact that in the corporate and educational world, people are increasingly moving toward Apple products.

“This last year has been a game-changer for what Google and Chrome books have to offer,” Jensen said.

If the Acer Chrome books work well with high school students, said Jensen, it might be reasonable to replace the iPads with Acers once the lease at Middle School of the Kennebunks ends.

“This solution is built more around services than the device,” Jensen said.

“In the foreseeable future, this is where education is going.”

The board will vote on the issue in the upcoming months.

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