Technology in classrooms

Thomas Edison Elementary School student Cathy Mohos works on a computer during 4th grade computer lab time at the Burbank school, photographed on Friday, February 15, 2013. The Burbank School Board will consider approving $5 million worth of upgrades for classrooms this Thursday, June 5, 2014. (Raul Roa / Staff Photographer / February 15, 2013)

The Burbank School Board will consider approving $5 million worth of upgrades this Thursday in another significant step on the district's path to providing students with technologically up-to-date classrooms.

The recommendations were made by the district's technology committee and call for providing each classroom with a document camera, voice-amplification system and projector.

The document cameras allow educators to display three-dimensional objects or images from digital devices to students, while the voice-amplification systems will better enable teachers to make their voices audible.

In all, adding the three components to each classroom would cost about $6,500 per room, or $5 million, which will come from the district's $110-million Measure S bond, according to the proposal.

The current proposal seeks to install all three items in classrooms starting in the fall so all classrooms would be equipped with them by the summer of 2015.

The committee originally sought to install each classroom with a "Smart Board" — an interactive device mounted on a wall capable of playing videos and relaying images. But due to the cost and lack of flexibility in them compared to one-on-one devices, the committee reconsidered, said Sharon Cuseo, director of instruction and accountability.

Instead, the committee called for a trial in which they had four teachers at different grade levels use iPads, HP Chrome Books or Amplify Tablets with their students.

"Throughout the trial, students were completely engaged with the devices and were disappointed to see them leave," according to a district report on how students took to the Amplify Tablets.

In testing all three devices, the students and teachers used them with relative ease, according to the report.

The cost for the one-on-one devices still needs to be determined, and the board will need to approve their purchase at a later date, but in the meantime, the committee has suggested that the students in grades four through 12 be permitted to take the devices home, while those in grades kindergarten through third only use them at school.

When the time comes to purchase the devices, the plan indicates that the teachers will receive them initially, along with lessons on how best to use them in the classroom setting.

For now, if the board approves the current recommendations this week to install document cameras, voice amplification systems and projectors, classrooms with aging or broken projectors would be given priority for the new technology.

School officials may also decide to post one "Smart Board" at each school site in a library or multipurpose room and then sign-up to be able to use it with students.

Just last month, the Burbank School Board approved spending $1.5 million to create a new data center, a move seen by school officials as the initial task in building its main technological infrastructure and expanding high-speed Wi-Fi across the district, laying the groundwork for educators to efficiently use one-on-one devices.

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Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan.

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