On May 19 staff from the Instructional and Information Technology (IIT) department at Evanston Township High School presented updates on district technology initiatives to the District 202 Board of Education. The report provided an overview of infrastructure and communication technology updates, collaborations with District 65 and the Evanston Public Library, and an update on the 1:1 Digital Learning Initiative.

David Chan, ETHS Technology Integration Specialist, explained that teachers of freshman courses are on target to receive the training needed to support the 1:1 Digital Learning Initiative, which will place District-issued Chromebooks in the hands of all freshmen in the 2014-15 school year.

In April, teachers received specialized training from IIT staff at a two-day “ChromeCamp,” and additional training is scheduled to occur over the summer.
IIT staff reported on several enhancements to communication technologies scheduled for launch later this year.

Director of Technology Paula Frohman said the IIT department and Communications Office at ETHS are partnering to introduce the District’s first mobile application. The app will allow users to easily access the information they need in one place, including school news, social media, a staff directory, lunch menus, sports information and school calendar items, she said.

The mobile app is scheduled to launch in August of this year and will be available to download at no cost for both Android and iOS smartphones. That app will also include a link to the soon-to-be-released mobile app for Home Access Center, the online portal where students/parents/guardians can view assignments, attendance, grades and other information related to student learning. New features to the recently launched rapid notification system, SchoolMessenger, will be part of the district app as well. The IIT and Communications teams partnered this spring to launch the SchoolMessenger system, which is used to deliver both emergency and non-urgent messages on matters such as attendance, general event information, and school emergencies or closings. The teams will work over the summer to prepare the launch of SchoolMessenger’s Contact Management feature, which will allow parents, students and staff to customize the ways they choose to receive notifications.

 “We are committed to using today’s technology to increase communication with parents and our community, while at the same time increasing opportunities for our students who are digital learners,” said ETHS District 202 Superintendent Eric Witherspoon.

 The report included updates on the IIT department’s collaboration with the Evanston Public Library (EPL) and District 65.

Mr. Chan said ETHS librarians and technology staff have partnered with EPL staff this school year to offer students the chance to learn about and experience Evanston Public Library resources while still in their classrooms at ETHS. This partnership was expanded to include librarians from District 65 to review available resources and coordinate plans for future collaboration.

ETHS has made a commitment to share ideas and suggestions as well as exchange  resources with District 65 and EPL regarding instructional technology.
Mr. Chan said this collaborative approach will provide students in Evanston public schools with a more unified learning experience as they progress through the schools and library system.

 Assistant Director of Technology Mike Corcoran concluded the Board report with an update on technology infrastructure at ETHS.
Mr. Corcoran described additions to ongoing improvements to safety technology, including the addition of high-definition cameras around campus, and explained that the most significant updates were needed to support the advancement of instructional technology.

Specifically, Mr. Corcoran noted that the increase in mobile devices being used in classrooms and in the hallways of the high school would require updates to the wired and wireless infrastructures over the coming months, particularly to support the 1:1 deployment. IIT staff explained that with a solid infrastructure in place, students and staff will be able to utilize the Internet and all of its resources at speeds that allow for the most efficient use of classroom and workplace time.
Anyone wishing more information about this Board report may contact David Chan (chand@eths.k12.il.us) or Mike Corcoran (corcoranm@eths.k12.il.us).
Related links:
http://www.eths.k12.il.us/about_eths/instructional_and_informational_technology/eths_11_digital_learning_initiative.aspx (The FAQ is on the right side)