Committee outlines plan to improve technology in Lyme-Old Lyme schools

Old Lyme — A plan to bring more technology into the school district will need to encompass not only standards for students, but also additional training and support for the district's staff, according to a presentation to the school board Wednesday night.

Greater student access to devices and a uniform technology platform for all classrooms are other long-term goals identified by a committee that recommended the technology plan to the Lyme-Old Lyme Board of Education.

"The most resounding message we heard from across the levels was the need for technology support for our staff," said the district's Director of Curriculum Elizabeth Borden, who served on the committee along with parents, school board members and staff.

The committee recommended setting clear guidelines for teachers on how to integrate technology in the classroom, so students leave elementary school with a common technological foundation.

"We need to make sure all students have a shared experience," said Jennifer Whelan, a fourth-grade teacher at Center School and a committee member. She also stressed the need for in-person professional development and resources for teachers who need support.

To that end, the district is looking into restructuring staff positions to try to create a K-5 technology-integration specialist to support teachers and staff. The committee may approach the board in the future with a specific proposal.

The committee also recommended that the district research next year a uniform technology platform - for classroom use in posting assignments or facilitating discussions - that ultimately could be implemented district wide during the 2015-16 school year.

A one-to-one student-to-technology ratio for Lyme-Old Lyme High School is another long-term goal. The committee recommended looking more closely at the district's "bring your own device" policy and future funding for devices. Currently, about 15 percent to 20 percent of high school students bring in their own devices to school, according to the presentation.

The 2014-15 schools' budget includes funding for technology, including additional laptop carts across the district. In addition, the committee is recommending purchasing next year an additional laptop cart for the middle school with funds already set aside in the budget that can be used at the committee's discretion. The committee also wants to purchase additional computers and create media labs at the elementary schools through funds saved by extending the district's technology replacement cycle from five to six years.

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