By Andy Sevilla
The wheels are turning to get tablets in teachers’ hands for use in their classroom as a means to aid in instruction by the end of the school year, according to Hays CISD officials.
“Every teacher in the district will receive a device for use in their classroom as instructional tools,” said Hays CISD spokesperson Tim Savoy. “These devices will also be used as document cameras for projecting items on the wall (similar to the old overhead projectors).”
In May, voters approved bond funding for the school district to provide teachers with a tablet — like an Apple iPad, Samsung Note Pro or Google Tab 4 Education — as a form of digital learning in the classroom.
That recommendation came from the Growth Impact Committee when formulating the 2014 bond proposal, Savoy said. The estimated cost for providing about 1,100 of the district’s teachers with a tablet is $834,102.
Savoy said, “The devices will belong to the district, but teachers would be allowed to take them home to prepare lessons, work on projects, try new apps to be used on the classroom, and to communicate with parents and students.”
It remains to be seen what tablet teachers will be provided with, though some front-runners have emerged.
An evaluation team consisting of five curriculum and instruction and five technology department members was formed to research mobile device options for district teachers. A survey also was designed and implemented with teachers to gain input on functionality requirements needed for digital learning.
After reviewing several tablets and evaluating teacher survey results, three device candidates rose to the top — Apple iPad with Apple TV mirroring technology, Samsung’s Google Tablet for Education with chromecast mirroring technology, and Samsung’s Note Pro Tablet with chromecast mirroring technology.
At a technology showcase Oct. 9, about 75 people made it out to the Hays Curriculum and Instruction Annex to review and handle tablets being proposed for district teachers. Those in attendance also were asked to fill out a survey, commenting on their preferred option.
On Tuesday, district officials sent out a survey to all Hays CISD staff members to weigh in on the decision the school board will make regarding the teacher device platform.
Savoy said the tablets are estimated to last five years, but could last longer depending on the use of each individual device.
In terms of the replacement budget, he said, “The devices would be included in a technology replacement budget that is different from the bond. This year, the district began setting aside money in the fund balance specifically to replace technology in future years to reduce the need for buying technology through bonds. It is the district’s plan to continuously have a teacher device assigned to each teacher.”
Later this school year, Hays CISD trustees will decide what device the district will purchase for the teachers, after reviewing staff surveys, public input, and a recommendation from the evaluation team.
“We will make the decision this school year in time to order the devices and train teachers,” Savoy said. “The goal is to have the devices in their hands by the end of this school year.”