Technology Changes for 2015-2016

posted Jun 26, 2015, 11:18 AM by District Webmaster   [ updated Aug 11, 2015, 6:43 AM ]
The district's technology support program will undergo a number of changes in 2015-2016:

Site-Level Trainers

Teresa Underhill, the Teacher Specialist for Information Technology at the ESC, has retired. As part of budget reductions due to insufficient state funding, the district did not fill her position. Instead, some of those job functions will be picked up by other ESC personnel and the district is paying additional Instructional Technology Assistant increments to existing teachers.

In 2014-2015, two Instructional Technology Assistant increments were paid to teachers who offered district-wide technology training: Trilla Cranford at Central for secondary teachers and Katie VanZant and Amy Hodges at Hoover for elementary teachers. Now the district will pay an increment to a teacher at each of the district's 10 school sites so that more focused and convenient site-level training can be provided.

Google Apps for Education

The district will be piloting Google Apps for Education with selected programs, including an initiative at Central, where some inexpensive Chromebook browser-based laptops will be piloted.The plan is to expand access to Google Apps for Education to all district employees during the school year once the pilot program works out the kinks.

With Google Apps for Education, staff members can sign into Google services using their usual district network username and password (rather than a personal Gmail or Google account). 
These educational accounts provide special features, including:
  • Google Classroom (see below)
  • Student email accounts (once district policies are in place; staff email will still be via Microsoft Exchange)
  • Shared access to Google Drive, Calendars, Docs, and more
  • Additional storage in Google Drive and at Google Sites
  • No advertising
  • User accounts tied into the district's Active Directory to sync the username and password for easy access
Google Apps for Ed

Google Classroom

Classroom is available to anyone with Google Apps for Education, a free suite of productivity tools including Gmail, Drive and Docs.

Classroom is designed to help teachers create and collect assignments paperlessly, including time-saving features like the ability to automatically make a copy of a Google Document for each student. It also creates Drive folders for each assignment and for each student to help keep everyone organized.

Students can keep track of what's due on the Assignments page and begin working with just a click. Teachers can quickly see who has or hasn't completed the work, and provide direct, real-time feedback and grades right in Classroom.

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New District Website and Eventual District-Wide Website Integration

Granger Meador is the district webmaster. As part of the Google Apps for Education initiative, he has recreated the district website using Google Sites. This will eventually enable additional features, such as an intranet for secure staff access to information. More importantly, it will allow other district personnel, such as the district's Community Relations Coordinator, to edit and maintain portions of the website. The old website was hand-coded HTML with separate sites for desktop and mobile devices; moving to Google Sites will make it easier to maintain the site and add new features. 

Eventually all school site websites will be hosted on Google Sites, since the My Big Campus service being used to host most of them will be discontinued in July 2016. (Bartlesville is grandfathered in to continue to use the service until then.)

Mr. Meador will also be building a new website on Google Sites for the 9-12 high school to replace the former mid-high and high school websites. The nine other district sites (six elementary schools, two middle schools, and the Will Rogers Complex) will migrate to Google Sites once a suitable template is created and training is provided to webmasters. 

Google Apps for Education will also allow teachers to build their own websites as part of their school's website if they wish to do so. This would allow easier navigation for students, parents, and other community members. Site-level trainers will be asked to help teachers learn how to use the Google Sites service. Please note that teachers who have already created their own websites via personal Google accounts or via other services, such as Weebly or Wix, will be welcome to continue to use those sites and services. As always, teachers must notify their supervisor of any sites they create for school use, provide access information, and abide by the district technology use policies

My Big Campus Sunsets

The transition to Google Apps for Education and migration of district websites is especially important since Lightspeed is phasing out support for the My Big Campus service which is used to host the elementary and middle school and Will Rogers Complex websites. My Big Campus will shut it down completely in July 2016; Lightspeed has promised that teachers with content stored in the My Big Campus service will be provided a download tool or migration service to use that content elsewhere.

The district's intent is to shift from My Big Campus to Google Apps for Education in providing teachers and students with collaborative learning, communication, and learning tools. Some teachers already use the separate Edmodo service and are welcome to continue to utilize that independent platform.