Germantown — Wireless speed throughout the Germantown School District is now six times faster than it was a year ago.
The School District replaced and upgraded its wireless system in all of the buildings to handle the influx of devices used to enhance student learning. The district this year purchased 300 Chromebooks to be used in the classroom, as well as brought in more iPads at the elementary level.
"The existing infrastructure wouldn't handle the amount of devices we had and certainly wouldn't handle more so we brought in 166 access points throughout the district to handle the existing (devices), plus what students and staff can bring in," Director of Technology Marc Gabrysiak said.
Wireless upgrades are one piece of a larger puzzle. School administration is working to launch a Bring Your Own Device initiative, which would encourage students to bring their personal devices to school and use them as part of the curriculum. Before they launch the BYOD initiative, they plan to boost the current bandwidth from 100 megabytes to 1 gigabyte.
Superintendent Jeff Holmes said they also need to educate teachers and students about "digital citizenship."
"We know that technology has become a right in the school setting, but there is responsibility that goes along with it," he said. "Before you get to that point where you can open it up completely, there is a lot of education that needs to take place."
The education includes curriculum development and discussing ways teachers can encourage the use of technology and make it conducive with the lesson plans.
Teachers are already starting to use technology in the classroom. For example, students at North Middle School use Khan Academy, a digital tool that acts as another layer to their lesson plan and helps to reinforce a particular subject.
Having upgraded wireless will also help with AP classes at Germantown High School. A lot of classes, such as AP biology and AP chemistry have online labs.
"You can do a lot of your lab work now virtually, so (the infrastructure) needs to be robust, needs to be accessible, needs to be fast," Holmes said.
He said he does not believe in a one-device model because it is not a single-device world. Providing students flexibility and multiple devices will help better prepare students. As the the district continues to work on further technology integration in its schools, they will assess the technology that is currently being used to see what is helping students improve.
"Certainly, for Germantown to attain its vision that it has, technology is an important piece of the puzzle," Holmes said. "Technology is not the whole answer, but it is a significant consideration in modern education delivery."
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