Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A Year of Innovation, Discovery and Risk Taking

Dr. Bob Smiley, Chief Information Officer (CIO)

As we focus on preparing our students for their adult futures, in a digital world, we need our school classrooms to be digitally based.  As such, we have made this year a year of Innovation, Discovery and Risk Taking with technology as a focus.  

The consensus among those leaders most close to the technology industry is that there are three factors that will dominate over the next five years: 

  • Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is going to be a dominant force.   
  • Cloud storage and computing is going to play a critical role and many of us are foreshadowing this to be pivotal in education.  
  • Video is going to dominate in ways that it doesn't now - and that includes the use of YouTube for educational purposes. 

When YouTube was closed for students last spring, it was due to the School District of Janesville not having enough bandwidth for Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) testing and Food Service.  This was a difficult time for those who used YouTube instructionally.   

We want faculty to lead with technology, including the use of Edmodo and Moodle, and to be “Flipping” their classrooms, and all of these require access to video.  We cannot ignore that YouTube is the dominant market force for video access.  

We tried different alternatives to opening YouTube, with mediocre results.  One teacher wrote, "In my flipped classroom, all my class videos have had to be changed to an MP4 format and uploaded to Google drive then re-linked to my website which has and still is taking a lot of time to switch over and is glitchy."

We want our district to be not only the best in the region, but the best in the state. We need to be innovative with technology, and in order to do that, we need YouTube to be available for students.  To that end, we have been able to renegotiate our Internet contract and increase the bandwidth. 

Beginning Wednesday morning (10/16/2013), YouTube will be available for students.  We are not making any other changes, or opening other aspects like social media (Facebook), streaming video (Netflix), or other sites (Games).   There are no other changes being made to the firewall or filter.  In order to move forward, to be innovative with technology, it's important that YouTube be available for teachers to use with students instructionally.  

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