Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Building School Technology Infrastructure from the Ground Up

The sheer amount of technology that is being introduced into the education world is growing at an intense rate.  According to Smart Infrastructure, a research report from The Center for Digital Education and Coverage, nearly 50% of high school students own -- or have access to a smartphone or tablet computer.  What’s more amazing, more than 6.7 million higher education students took at least one online course during the fall 2011 term (I was one of them, completing my dual degree from NYIT in School Building Leadership & Technology).  Since the Common Core State Standards will try to implement online assessments in ELA and Math by the 2014-2015 school year, it’s imperative to make sure that we are ready and have the proper amount of equipment to handle the demand.  The question is will school districts across the county be ready for it?

The Need for Speed

Internet quality and speeds have come a long way from the mid to late 1990s and dial up access.  Today, the infrastructure system that supports the internet is getting better with fiber optics and equipment that allows for faster upload and download speeds; mobile broadband speeds of today could leave a 56K dial-up connection in it’s dust, so speed isn't quite the issue any longer (or is becoming less of an issue at that).

Tips on getting additional support to fund technology:

  1. Look within by utilizing parent and local business support.  Whether your parent body is a 501c3 tax exempt nonprofit organization or a group that can financially take on the weight to improve the infrastructure and technology in your school building, support is what you’re looking for. Work collaboratively with teachers, administrators, and other school staff to raise the money in a variety of ways, such as a fundraiser.  The teamwork will point you in the right direction and bring everyone together.  Reach out to local community service people for additional support - they may have funds that can help soften the blow financially.  

    You can take this a step further by using a charitable web-based company like onecause that makes contributions to schools simply by connecting to consumers' everyday purchases. Just use the onecause link and you'll end up in a one-stop shopping "mall" that will send a percentage of your spending back to the school of your choice. By adding a link to a web-based company like onecause to your school's official webpage, you're automatically increasing the chance that funds will come back to your school -- and since people love to shop online, why not steer them in a direction where they're helping out the school just by shopping for items that they will purchase online anyway!

  2. Use a web-based service like DonorsChoose, which Oprah Winfrey calls a “revolutionary charity” to help fund school projects.  People and organizations donate money or services anonymously to help fund projects of all sizes - big and small.  For more on DonorsChoose, visit their about section.
  3. Use a blog like Blogger or WordPress or other social media like Pinterest or Twitter to reach out for additional support.  By posting a blog with detailed information and pictures about what you’d like to accomplish and what the funds are needed for, you’ll open up your possible resources to not just your immediate school and surrounding neighborhood, but to the world -- yes, that’s right -- the world.  Use a hashtag phrase on Twitter such as #SchoolDonationsNeeded or #SupportOurSchool with a link to your blog to help fill the cause!  You’ll be amazed how fast the word can get out and around with a little self-promotion.  Plus, you never know who is seeing the Twitter feed under one of your hashtags - Mr. Donald Trump or Ms. Oprah Winfrey may want to help you out.

The bottom line is to reach out and use as many resources as you possibly can.  Get a team together of parents, teachers, and community members on a committee to help your school tackle the infrastructure of your building so that your students are 21st Century ready, willing, and able!

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