Technology Isn't Enough: Training and Ongoing Support Are Key
Simply integrating technology in schools won't provide the necessary elements of success.
"What makes us different from other districts is that our schools have a long-range vision for the integration of technology with teaching and learning," says Dennis McIntyre, director of Media and Instructional Technology Services for the Westside Community Schools in Omaha, Nebraska. "We recognize that technology isn't enough. Training, technical assistance, and ongoing support are key elements for success."
To support the integration of technology in the curriculum, the district offers technology training classes for its more than 400 teachers and funds a technology expert at each of its thirteen schools. The result is that teachers at every grade level have assistance in putting what they've learned about technology into practice.
Students at four elementary schools recently participated in a three-month, online learning adventure. While investigating the causes of the collapse of ancient Mayan civilization, they used e-mail and the World Wide Web to follow a research team traveling through Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico.
At another school in the district, Westside Middle School, a class studied human rights by using the Internet to electronically search library resources and news reports as well as to contact foreign governments across the globe about their policies and practices. They identified countries that were violating human rights, created multimedia projects, and mailed them to the governments with the aim of getting them to undertake reforms.