By Julie Ann Madden
Just before Christmas, Akron-Westfield students, teachers and some parents completed a survey answering the question: How is the 1:1 Initiative working?
At the Jan. 13 meeting, A-W/West Sioux Shared Director of Operations Bob Bak shared the Technology Survey results with school board members.
“The results came back exactly as I thought they should be with someone who just went 1:1,” said Bak. “There were some good things and some we can improve on.”
At A-W, 338 students were surveyed, and almost half — 48 percent — feel confident with technology — that they can solve tech problems on their own, he said. “The kids aren’t going to use it if they are not confident with it, and that (number’s) only going to go up from there.”
Seventy-three percent of A-W teachers responded they felt confident with the technology,” said Bak. “That’s where they should be as adults.”
In addition, 33 percent of teachers felt they readily utilize Online Skills, which were defined as “essential skills for contributing and collaborating on the internet.” Students reported 36 percent utilized Online Skills.
“This is also only going to go up as the year goes on,” said Bak.
The one area for all — teachers, parents and students — that needs improving is Digital Citizenship, which is “Responsible behavior when using technology — legal use of content, establishing a presence online, online safety and cyberbullying prevention.”
Only 6 percent of students felt highly knowledgeable in Digital Citizenship skills compared with only 5 percent of teachers.
“How we fix this is some Professional Development (training for teachers),” said Bak, explaining a team is needed to show the students how to be confident with Digital Citizenship. “Everyone is going to be low on this. Everyone, including us, has to get better at that.”
Digital Citizenship includes making sure students are not sharing music, videos or pictures when not supposed to — that’s the curriculum side, he said, noting West Sioux has some tools and their survey results, which weren’t available prior to this board meeting, will show whether they are working or not.
“Every day something new comes up we have to block,” said Bak, “or we’re going to have to teach kids you don’t want to be here (on the computer).”
Eighty percent of teachers reported teaching Digital Citizenship three hours or less, he said. “We need to improve on this — give kids examples all the time.”
Bak suggested using A-W’s Success Time period for these lessons as West Sioux uses their Home Room periods.
Having computer infrastructure at home, 98 percent of teachers said they have internet at home while only 86 percent of students did.
“It’s possible the students didn’t understand the question,” said Bak. “We were down to about 40 percent (with infrastructure at home) when West Sioux started 1:1. The day we handed out laptops the survey could have been 70 to 80 percent. As soon as it was needed, people in Hawarden got internet.”
“It’s all good numbers for A-W,” he said, noting 93 percent of teachers reported they can get devices for students…Grades 6-12 have devices while the elementary does some sharing so that’s probably why that’s down a little — 74 percent of teachers reported high quality internet speed.”
“That could be that it’s just a bad internet day and has nothing to do with here,” said Bak. “You have more than enough band width (for internet service) here.”
It was noted in the survey: “21st Century Learning” requires organizations to meet the current requirements of standardized tests while also striving to achieve the Four C’s: communication, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking. The skills needed for success in college and career are becoming increasingly complex, and schools must rise to meet new demands.”
“This is why we went to 1:1,” said Bak, noting there are plenty of free software programs to help teachers provide students with these skills.
Bak also advocates having student helpers as members of the district’s technology team. He explained these students would actually go into the classrooms and help some teachers and classmates through some curriculum and technical things.
“Because whether you like it or not, kids are better than we are with technology,” said Bak, “and they are always going to be so much farther ahead. It’s our job to try to keep up with them.”
“This is really exciting compared to where we were at last year,” said A-W Board Member Phil Parks.
This survey will be given to A-W students, faculty and parents two years from now, said Bak. “It’ll be curious as to how the answers change.”