California Superintendent Pushes Classroom Technology

The state of California has decided to put more effort into its technology program in public schools by implementing new technology and training for its educators. The state also is trying to get more students and families connected to the Internet by getting connection to rural communities, tribal lands, low income communities, and those with disabilities, writes Susan Frey for EdSource.

California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson has toured several of California’s schools and sat in on classes to see how technology worked within the classroom, reports Aliyah Mohammed of The San Jose Mercury News.   He presented a new program, the Education Technology Task Force’s “Education Technology Blueprint” which will bring the state’s schools up to modern technology standards. The announcement came on Friday morning at William Burnett Elementary School in Milpitas, California.

“It is so awesome to be able to see the technology being used in the classrooms,” Torlakson said, after viewing students working in different groups in Alison Elizondo’s fourth-grade class, as she worked with a student on a Chromebook. “The instantaneous responses students and teachers get, help them get ongoing help as they need it.”

The blueprint is an outline of 19 suggestions that came from education taskforce members, school administrators, and teachers and education professionals. Its goal is to assist California teachers using technology to promote the  experience of learning to children all over the nation, writes Mohammed. The “Education Technology Blueprint” zeroes in and sets its goals  on learning, teaching, assessment, and infrastructure.

The taskforce that made the recommendations is made up of  teachers, administrators, technology directors, local and county superintendents, school board members, parents, researchers, policy advocates and foundation and community members from around the state.

Some have raised concerns as to how the state will pay for the new technology and teacher technology training. California has received $1.25 billion in Common Core funds that could go toward equipment, training and materials for technological advancement, reports the Daily Press.

Milpitas Unified’s Technology Services Department has put $1.8 million into technology in 2012-13, will pay out $1.9 million this year on it and is predicted to fork over another $1.8 million the following 2015 year, says Mohammed. Most of this money went towards the school system buying Chromebooks, Google-powered laptops. The school system possesses 4,500 Chromebooks and seeks to acquire 9,000 by 2015.

“As California continues to move toward college and career readiness for every child, education technology has to be part of what we do,” Torlakson said in a press release. “I’ve visited classrooms up and down the state and seen everything from virtual science experiments to online group projects. From Common Core to the new Smarter Balanced assessments, our state – which has always led the way in innovation – is focused on preparing students with the real-world skills they need. This new blueprint charts a smart course for getting us there.”