The Edmond Sun

Local News

August 10, 2012

Memorial is pilot for wireless initiative

School seeks additional funding for technology

EDMOND — Edmond Memorial High School has been chosen as the pilot school for the Wireless Initiative in the Edmond School District for the 2012-13 school year.

Rich Anderson, director of technology for the district, said, “Ultimately, Memorial was chosen based on the administration’s vision for wireless use in the school and the staff support.”

“We hope to have the wireless up and running by Nov. 1,” Anderson said.  

Installation of the wireless technology is estimated to cost approximately $125,000, which includes the infrastructure, cabling, wireless software and access points (a wireless device that will go in the classroom or hallway), Anderson said.

“Access points are the biggest cost,” Anderson said, “and at this time we are estimating two-thirds of the total cost will go toward the access points. In a school like Memorial we may need one access point in each classroom, but starting out we are putting one access point in every two classrooms.”

Some common areas including the cafeteria, media center, gymnasium and the football practice field will also have wireless access.

The district will also be purchasing one cart with 40 iPads to be used in the classrooms.

“I estimate the cart with a classroom set of iPads will cost approximately $30,000,” said Becki Teague, instructional technology coordinator. “The carts have the capability to charge all of the iPads, update any programs and load new applications all at one time.”

The wireless technology will be password protected, Anderson said, and all Internet sites will be filtered just as the hardwired network is.

Although most school districts in the state already have wireless technology provided for their schools, Anderson said the reason the Edmond School District is starting with a pilot school is because the district doesn’t want to spend $1-2 million and just end up with free wireless.

“We want to make sure this is integrated into the classroom teaching environment,” Anderson said. “We need to see that happening before we provide wireless for the district.”

An Instruction and Curriculum committee composed of teachers, administrators, Diane Fenly and Teague are researching and developing guidelines for best practices and sample lessons in the classroom.

“A lot of it will be intuitive,” Teague added. “The world is wireless, including bank transactions, businesses, shopping, and the school is one of last bastions of non-wireless environments.”

Teague said one of the thoughts is the time is ripe for technology.

“Electronic testing is already being used and electronic textbooks will be coming in the next three to five years,” Anderson added. “It is about building an infrastructure that will be used as the new trends keep driving wireless.”

Teague said the technology department is excited about the possibilities and eagerly exploring the uses of wireless in the future of the school district.

Teague added Memorial principal Debbie Bendick is going above and beyond as she has taken on raising additional funds so more classrooms can experience wireless technology at the same time.

Bendick said she is hoping to start the school year with more than $70,000 in the school’s budget to purchase additional hardware and software and wishing for more than that.

“The funds being raised will be used to support the purchase of hardware and software for students to use at school,” Bendick said.

In addition to money from the general fund, Bendick said the class of 1992 collected $1,500 during their 20th reunion and the school is hoping to raise at least $10,000 from the Old Bulldog Band concert from 7-10 p.m. Aug. 19 at the UCO Jazz Lab.

Hoping area businesses will see the potential of wireless use in the classrooms, Bendick said, “We have petitioned a few of the area businesses, and hope that they will see how up-to-date technology experiences in the classroom can translate to a better prepared workforce.

“In the not too distant future, we foresee our students accessing their textbooks on multi-purpose tablet/reader devices that can also serve as personal computing tools.”

 

A dynamic learning environment

The real-life impetus for pursuing the dynamic environment that a wireless network allows is ultimately — for all students — employability, whether they choose to pursue that goal through a college education or another avenue, Bendick said.

“Our vision includes the rich media and more open learning processes that inspire faculty and students to innovate and explore new opportunities as their learning norm.

The system would provide virtual science labs to substitute for actual labs that might be missed due to student absences. This would allow teachers to continue to monitor regular class time while students do labs without any danger.

Mirroring would be a likely use with multiple devices and a wireless platform. With the latest operating system upgrade, iPad2, iPad3, and iPhone 4S devices have a ‘mirroring’ function that allows all of their screen content to display through an AppleTV device attached to any screen/projection medium.  

“It would allow teachers to provide controlled demonstration of websites or other content while using proximity as an instruction device; with this in mind, teachers would also be able to pass a single device around to students while allowing the entire class to benefit from the experience and eliminating some of our natural concerns about providing access to students who do not have smart phone or tablet access,” Bendick said.

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