Technology Plan 2020-2021

American Leadership Academy’s

Technology Plan 2020-2021

 

Executive Summary 

The American Leadership Academy technology plan represents the schools  vision and recommendations, based on the current technology status, critical components and desired outcomes for instructional technology. This plan is a fluid document that can be revised as needed based on changes within the district. It is flexible, yet specific enough to serve as a guide in decision-making and budgeting.  This plan has been developed to assist the school in allocating funds with a focus on the components that are identified within this plan. Those components are infrastructure, equipment, student learning choices and training/professional development. The following plan specifies how ALA will support the integration of technology in teaching and learning. 

Infrastructure  

The implementation of this plan must begin with an appropriate wired and wireless infrastructure that can support the increase of devices needed on the network. ALA has already begun to create a robust technology infrastructure consisting of domain controllers, file storage servers, switches, high-density access points etc. that will help meet the demands of today.  This infrastructure will ensure learners experience a robust, filtered Internet environment using a variety of technology to ensure success in the classroom. 

Equipment

ALA will strive for one cart of mobile devices per every two-teacher’s district wide in grades 2-6, and have one-to-one device per student ratio for grades 7-12.  This will be accomplished during the course of this plan by using devices currently owned by the school while adding devices in deficient areas. Along with these carts, additional tablet devices will be placed in individual classrooms at the K-2 grade level.. This will increase the number of available devices, thereby creating more opportunity for teachers to integrate technology into their daily curriculum. ALA will also invest in additional computers/chromebooks that can be checked out by students that are engaged in the distant learning program.  

Student Learning Choices 

Staff and students need access to online content in a dynamic and engaging way that supports college and career readiness. This plan calls for a school wide committee to meet bi- annually and review current online offerings to ensure the needs of the stakeholders and students are being met. 

Training/Professional Development 

Ongoing sustained professional development must be a top priority for the success of our student learners and teachers alike. It must be integrated within all grade levels and content areas, differentiated to meet the needs of the various teachers, and be available during and outside the scheduled workday. We must provide our staff with the appropriate tools so that they can be successful when integrating technology into their curriculum. We must provide staff with the capability to effectively use the variety of technology in their classroom. As part of ALA’s plan we will work to hire and train a specialist/technician that will oversee and train our staff on the integration of technology in the classroom. ALA recognizes that our greatest asset and resource is found in our teachers. ALA will encourage our current staff to share their individual expertise with their colleagues and incentives this by paying them to be experts and trainers as we move further into the digital realm of teaching and learning.  Our resident teacher experts will work with our technology department to design and implement a variety of technology professional development protocols across all content areas.   

Communication

 To be effective, it is critical that both staff and stakeholders be notified in a timely manner of ALA’s  technology vision and upcoming changes in technology. This will ensure all those who have a stake in the success of American Leadership Academy will be informed and knowledgeable of upgrades and enhancements. The IT department will communicate to staff of any modifications, upgrades, or changes in technology through email and direct contact.


Board of Education Goal 

The Board of American Leadership Academy had been committed to the expansion and proliferation of technology throughout the organization. Every year they have allocated large sums of money to Technology related purchases. The Board believes that technology is a powerful tool to aid and assist the teacher in teaching and the student in learning, but must be used in a way that the technology does not become a distraction to the process. The ALA Board would like to see a distance learning program in place, Teachers using technology as part of  a blend model, and see technology available to all students in the classroom by the end of the 2022 school year. The Board will be monitoring the progress as part of their bi-annual review. 

Current Infrastructure

Infrastructure-Wiring, connectivity, and foundational supports are in place. ALA contracted with H Wire in 2019 to have new fiber installed to provide a faster bandwidth to the campus and provide for more devices and better distance learning options. b. In 2019 ALA also installed all new wireless access points in every classroom in the secondary and provided the access points strategically in the elementary school to allow for every student to have digital access. C. Additional servers were purchased to streamline digital traffic and provide for better security. 


Process 

Survey 

Teachers, staff and parents have provided feedback on the technology needs and progress, ALA has also had a third party company assess the schools current status and provide recommendations to ensure we are within industry standards. 

Current State of Technology 

Infrastructure 

ALA currently serves more than 1,800 students in grades K-12. All schools currently have high speed Internet wired and wireless access. The entire school was recently upgraded with high density access points. Also, all switches were upgraded with Cisco branded edge switches. All buildings lack sufficient electrical outlets to charge individual devices. There is a need to upgrade the electrical supply in each classroom to accommodate additional technology equipment.

During the summer of 2019, file storage and domain controllers were all virtualized into a cluster environment which allows for stability, and provides redundancy to help guard against data loss or loss of access. 

Equipment 

All classrooms have a projector, additionally, all classrooms in grades K-4 have at least four computer workstations. The elementary school currently has one laptop cart with at least 30 devices per grade level team. These devices are commonly used for Moby Max math, Raz kids, and CKLA. The computer carts are also used extensively for Testing in Mastery Connect and NWEA. In the Jr. High schools math students have one-to-one access to computers to access and work on their ALEKS Math and The English department shares a chart of 30 computers which are used for written labs, research and testing. High school English and math departments have one-to- computer access. The computers are used for ALEKS math, NWEA, writing, research, and testing. 4 of the High school classrooms are equipped with smart boards that are functioning and 3 more have smart boards that are not fully functioning. Three of the CTE classrooms are fully outfitted with desktop computers.  

All of these devices also have Microsoft Office 16 Professional, which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc. These purchases are maintained through an annual agreement with Microsoft. This allows the district to use the most current version of operating system and productivity software. All teacher laptops in the middle school and high school also have Adobe Professional installed and select labs have Adobe Photoshop installed. 

The district has utilized iPads in Special Education for several years. 

Student Learning Choices 

The Elementary school has access to a variety of online applications. Among these, a keyboarding program used as part of a technology special so students gain confidence with keyboarding skills and Internet safety. Other applications are Moby Max, Raz Kids, i-Ready, Duolingo and Reading A-Z. 

The secondary school which includes grades 7-12 and are loosely split into our Jr. high and high school program, also have access to a wide variety of online applications. Canvas and Google classroom were implemented several years ago. While not previously mandated, the majority of teachers have become comfortable with these programs and starting 2020-21 Canvas for the Secondary schools will be required to aid with the online learning platform required due to the pandemic.  

Applications used in the secondary  include i-Ready,(mostly in the CE math) ALEKS, Odysseyware, our school created online English program, Duolingo, and a several other specific programs used by CTE courses. While not every teacher uses all of these resources, many are using at least some of them in a consistent manner. 

Due to a recent COVID-19 pandemic American Leadership Academy has been asked by its board to pursue a distance learning program that will enable students experiencing illness or that are at risk and would rather engage in online learning to have that option through ALA. In response to this need ALA has started a training process with teachers to ensure all curriculums from a class will be online through either Canvas or Google classroom. ALA has invested in external video cameras and software that will allow students that are remote to access classes either live or recorded to receive additional support to the online curriculum. With the technology needed teachers and staff will need additional time to get the online work completed so the school day has been shortened by 50 minutes for the school year 2020-21 to provide teachers with the extra time needed on this intensive frontloaded task. 

Ensuring students are able to use technology effectively and appropriately is important to the ALA. To aid in this, students are required to take technology classes in grades K-6 to foster technology skills and learn about Internet Safety. Students learn about Internet safety and cyberbullying to keep students safe while working and playing on the internet at school and home. 

The curriculum and IT departments work hand in hand to ensure requested technology, both hardware and software, meets or exceeds specifications and can be supported effectively. Currently, there is no clear consistent plan for technology integration in the classroom. 

Training/Professional Development 

The American Leadership Academy has and will continue to host a day of professional development for teachers to become more familiar with the technology and programs being used by ALA. The format for professional development has been varied over the years. One year all the teachers were working in the same room but as collaborative groups to learn how to complete curriculum guides and upload that into Canvas, other times we have done a seminar style where teachers could pick a program or topic that was of interest and attend an hour long session. We have called these PD days ALA University. 

All staff have access to technical support through completing a work order that is overseen by our facilities director and issued to a technician. We have one full time IT staff member and one part time staff member. We have been filling in the needs based demand with contract support and other staff members who have been willing and generously helping and supporting the schools growing technology needs. Our  technicians are not assigned to any specific building and each work order as they are entered. Staff may also use email or phone to receive technical support 

Communication Strategies 

Throughout the implementation of this plan, American Leadership Academy will make a committed effort to keep parents and staff members notified of updates, changes, and important information pertaining to each implementation stage. ALA will use the most effective means of communicating to the various stakeholders. Emails, newsletters, website updates, and printed material will be used to notify and educate the stakeholders throughout the stages of our progress. 

We value two-way communication between the ALA and our stakeholders. We value the input of our various stakeholders and will continue to provide opportunities to obtain feedback and encourage the flow of communication between all interested groups. 

Recommendations 

Recommendations that would move the ALA from its current state to the desired state. These recommendations, while general enough to allow flexibility as technology changes and advances, is also specific enough to move ALA forward in regards to technology and technology integration. Each recommendation is based on the four critical components identified above. Each of these components will help transform American Leadership Academy into a technology rich school.  Many of the critical components will overlap one another as they may be dependent upon each other to fully implement. 

      1. Infrastructure: 
      2. Create an environment that will support online learning, virtual classrooms, and a variety of hardware and software resources to increase student engagement and learning.

This environment is necessary to accommodate the many changes in education. Staff, students, and parents alike benefit from a digital learning environment. These tools will be used by staff to augment what they are already doing in the classrooms. This environment must be available to students and staff both inside the school walls and offsite. We want parents to play an active role in their child’s education, and to accommodate this, parents need to have access. This will enhance student learning as students, staff and parents become more comfortable utilizing a variety of online resources.

Ensure technology systems (servers, switches, access points, etc.) are up- to-date and kept current to ensure new technologies function optimally. 

For this technology plan to be effective, it is essential that the physical architecture be robust enough to handle not only technologies of today, but also scalable to ensure future needs can be met. As systems age, it is important to establish a refresh cycle that will examine infrastructure needs and ensure they are operating effectively and efficiently. This includes electrical systems, HVAC systems in areas where edge equipment is used (servers, switches, etc.), Wireless connectivity, servers, switches, as well as end user devices. It is also essential to monitor bandwidth usage and increase bandwidth as necessary. These updates will ensure a system that is operating smoothly. 

File storage will become a concern as staff and student use increases. It has become necessary to move to a cloud based storage which allow students and staff access to their files when they are not on school grounds. This has greatly reduce the amount of server capacity that is needed by ALA.

Ensure all district classrooms, offices, labs and media centers are provided access to wired and/or wireless high speed Internet. 

If the expectation is that technology will be used to improve and enhance instruction and learning, robust Internet access is critical. Currently all classrooms have wireless access points installed that are powered by Cisco Meraki. As well, access points are strategically located in office areas, gymnasiums, and cafeterias to allow wireless access. However, as technology increases, so will the demand for connectivity. The current system, although new, will need to be evaluated periodically to ensure all devices have sustained connectivity. 

As prevalent as wireless connectivity is, it is still imperative to have wired connectivity throughout the school.  This will ensure a redundant network so that downtime will be kept to a minimum. Bandwidth utilization will need to be monitored ongoing to ensure a reliable connection, both wired and wirelessly. 

    1. Equipment 
    2. American Leadership Academy will provide access to age-appropriate technology tools that will support student engagement and learning. 

For the effective integration of technology into the instructional practices of educators, ALA must ensure students and staff have access to current, age-appropriate, effective technology tools. True technology integration can only occur when all learners have access to the necessary tools in the classroom. 

    1. Implement a multi-phase vertically aligned technology initiative 

A vertically aligned initiative means that students will learn grade and age level appropriate technology skills. This scaffold approach will ensure students gain the knowledge and skills necessary to be academically successful and well prepared for college and careers. 

 

iii. Create criteria to determine the value of equipment 

Technology has a set life expectancy and as such ALA needs to create a set of criteria to help determine when to update or refresh technology. The ALA’s  IT department has already begun a refresh cycle that will be evaluated and modified to fit the current and future needs of ALA. This will ensure our technology does not become obsolete. 

    1. Ensure equipment is refreshed at the appropriate interval 

The American Leadership Academy believes that if staff are expected to effectively integrate technology into their daily instruction they must have access to a dedicated device. This plan will ensure all instructional staff have access to an appropriate device. 

    1. Student Learning Choices: 
    2. Create a school-wide “Technology Resource Review Committee” to 

assess and recommend instructional resources. 

ALA will form a committee that will consist of teachers and administrators who have practical knowledge related to the integration of technology. This committee will review subscriptions to online programs offered in the district to determine if they meet the minimum requirements so they will function properly and meet the needs of the classroom. This will also ensure the resource is aligned to our curriculum. These guidelines will help ensure all students and staff have access to a consistent set of functional resources. This will also help ensure similar opportunities for students and staff throughout ALA.

    1. Hardware and software will be used to diversify instruction, intervention 

and enrichment to extend student learning opportunities 

For teachers to meet the needs of all learners through enrichment and intervention there is a need to extend the learning opportunities. For this to occur, teachers will need tools that allow for differentiating instruction during the school day. This extension will allow learning to extend beyond the classroom. Access to the technology implied in this recommendation, and the training necessary to make it a reality are addressed in other critical components. 

iii. Provide instruction to ensure students are technology literate 

For ALA to effectively implement this technology plan, we need to ensure our students are technologically literate. Our students are digital natives, having grown up with many different technologies throughout their lives. As such, they are proficient with certain skills related to the use of technology. Many of these involve social interaction. While these can overlap into the educational arena, there is a need to assist students with gaps in their understanding of technology. This is especially true in regard to the use of many digital tools (presentation, word processing, typing, etc.) and how to utilize technology to help learn and solve problems. Instruction will be provided to students in grades K-12 to help them appropriately use technology to become more efficient learners. This will look differently based on grade band. 

    1. Universal and simplified online student access to assignments, course 

materials and resources 

Students need online access to instructional resources, assignments and course materials within and outside the school. This access needs to be organized in such a way to assist students in their learning. The process must be easy to navigate for students and easy for staff to upload documents.  It needs to allow for all of the teachers  instructional files, including assignments, resources and course materials. Parents will also have some level of access to these materials to continue to be partners with the district in their child’s learning. 

    1. Training/Professional Development: 
    2. Recommend creating a technology integration specialist position. This person will serve as a member of the district IT department and his or her primary responsibility will be to provide support and curriculum integration to teachers and staff members district wide. Teachers need instructional support in how to integrate technology effectively. This integration specialist will provide meaningful technology professional development opportunities to individuals and grade level teams. 
    3. Establish environment necessary for collaboration for teachers to share       successful methods for enriching areas of learning with technology. Teachers will be able to share effective methods and resources for successfully integrating technology in the classroom. This collaboration could take place face-to-face, but also have the potential to share across buildings in an online capacity. These methods will be housed in some electronic format for other teachers to access. These methods would be provided by teachers, administrators, and the district integration specialist. 

iii. Offer courses to support integrating technology as a routine instructional 

tool. Teachers are in constant need of opportunities to increase their capacity to integrate technology effectively in the classroom. By employing a technology integration specialist, courses will be developed to provide opportunities to staff to improve instruction. Teachers are also in need of Continuing Educational Units (CEU’s) and graduate credit for re- licensure, so this will serve a dual role. 

    1. Communication Strategies 
    2. ALA’s IT department will communicate hardware and software 

refresh cycles and updates to teachers and staff. 

The IT department will use a variety of means to notify teachers and staff of upcoming hardware and software changes that will have an impact on their daily instruction. Email, direct contact, and printed resources will be used to keep teachers apprised of any upcoming changes that they should be aware of in advance. 

    1. A flow of district information will be provided to stakeholders. 

The district will inform stakeholders of how technology is being used to improve student learning and enhance instruction in the classroom. 

iii. A variety of technology tools will be used to communicate. 

The ALA will use a wide variety of digital tools that range from digital monthly newsletters, weekly updates, periodic news stories posted to the website, automated phone calls and text messages. 

Recommendations for K-2 

Make laptops available to each classroom each day. This will create greater opportunities for the teachers to implement technology into their curriculum. 

Install a web camera in each classroom to enable the video conferencing with remote students and allow for recording lessons for additional student support. 

Add up to six additional iPads per classroom. This will allow teachers to form small groups for the various online educational activities. This will also create more available technology school wide for those times when whole group activities are desired. 

Recommendations for 3-6 

As requested add a document camera to each classroom. This will allow teachers to display and annotate printed works through the currently installed projectors. This will allow students to see, in real time, educational concepts the teacher is modeling. 

Install a web camera in each classroom to enable the video conferencing with remote students and allow for recording lessons for additional student support. 

Add additional laptop carts. This will complete the desired ratio of one laptop cart per every two teachers. This will allow for the removal of current aged student desktop computers, giving the classroom teacher more usable square footage per classroom. 

Recommendations for 7-12 

As requested add a document camera to each classroom. This will allow teachers to display and annotate printed works through the currently installed projectors. This will allow students to see, in real time, educational concepts the teacher is modeling. 

Install a web camera in each classroom to enable the video conferencing with remote students and allow for recording lessons for additional student support. 

Upgrade the current interactive technology in targeted classrooms. Many of the current SMART Boards and projectors are more than six years old. As these devices fail, new devices will need to be installed. As current interactive technology advances, so will the need to remain current to meet the needs of the classroom infrastructure. 

Add additional laptop carts. This will complete the desired ratio of one laptop cart per every two teachers. This will allow for the removal of current aged student desktop computers, giving the classroom teacher more usable square footage per classroom. 

Cost Evaluation    

Based on the recommendations the Board of Trustees has authorized up to $250,000 during the school year 2020