The importance of technology in our schools

By Dr. Marci Larsen, Superintendent | Jan 02, 2019

While the focus of our effort is always on what happens in the classroom, there are many other supporting functions that also play a critical role. Education can’t work, for example, if the school buildings aren’t maintained or the school buses don’t run. An important part of that support also comes in the form of technology.

Our technology services have recently produced three major initiatives: a new records system, a new website, and the installation of exciting new equipment in classrooms that will help students learn.

An effective Student Information System is critical to the operation of every school district. It’s the system that maintains all student records such as grades, attendance, test scores, contact information, discipline and health records, and much more. Moving all that information to a new system is a mammoth task that was accomplished with planning over the past two years and especially with the actual switch to the new system late this past summer.

Our new system is called Qmlativ and is the product of an organization that happens to be located within our school district only a couple of miles from our district office. The true test of an effective Student Information System is whether it can be easily used by the teachers, administrators, registrars, and other staff members who use it every day, and so far the new system seems to be a welcome change.

The system also has a component that allows parents to access their child’s student records and update contact information. Called Family Access, that system was made available to secondary parents a couple of months ago and will soon be available to elementary parents. Parents wanting more information should contact their child’s school.

Information for parents is the primary job of another technology system that was recently updated. Our old website was hosted on a platform that was aging and would no longer be supported by our web hosting company, so we were forced to change to a new system. After more than a year of planning and migrating the content of the old site to the new one, that new website went live a couple of weeks ago.

Along with the introduction of that new site, we also changed our web address. Our new address is www.mukilteoschools.org. (The old address will automatically forward to the new address for a while.)

I hope you check out the new website. It has a more modern look than the old one, is easier to navigate, and has one feature that will come as a pleasant surprise for many visitors. It is responsive, which means it can also be viewed without problem on a mobile phone or tablet.

I am particularly excited about another piece of technology that is being installed in our classrooms. When I was in school, my teachers used blackboards and we wrote on them with white chalk. I still remember beating the erasers together to clean them. Later the boards turned green, then became white boards that could be written on with colored felt pens.

Thanks to voters who passed a Technology Capital Projects levy about a year ago, we are now installing units called ActivPanels in our classrooms. They’re essentially large interactive computer screens that can be tied to a computer to show graphics or videos, that can be manipulated with the touch of a finger, and that can be drawn or written upon with special pens. Both teachers and students use them and just love what they can do.

These are just three of many wonderful things that are happening in the area of technology to improve the way that we teach students and communicate with families while also making life easier for our staff members.

 

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