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Bond Technology Focus Groups Underway; Teachers, Students Pilot Devices

With the passage of the November 2019 Bond in Keller ISD, technology improvements are now in the research and development stages to find the best solution for the educational environment in the District.

Keller ISD Bond 2019 Logo Currently six teachers across various grade levels are testing out teacher laptops, displays, and wireless casting solutions over the course of the spring semester. These devices include a Surface Book 2, Lenovo Yoga laptop, and Dell 7400, which are all are 2-in-1 devices and give teachers the ability to use it as a computer and a tablet if desired. Additionally, a MacBook will be tested. The wireless casting solutions they are piloting are the Airtame 2, the Actiontec Screenbeam, and the Kramer Via. These all connect to multiple devices or operating systems. Whether a teacher has a Mac OS, iOS, Chrome or Windows device, they should be able to connect and display to their projector.

Additonally, one high school class is piloting student devices, as is the Superintendent's Student Cabinet, which includes students from all Keller ISD high schools. 

In the $315 million bond proposal, $24,328,980 was allocated to District-wide technology upgrades. This process of determining the devices to be purchased has differed from that in the past, and is now including outfitting the classrooms with potential devices to see how they work day-to-day. Previously, small groups were asked to come in and see the devices while they were at a training, and provide some basic feedback on just the device itself. 

Aaron Rister, Director of Educational Technology, says the goal is to minimize issues that they run into after the implementation.

"By putting these devices in our teachers hands and classrooms we can work out some of the initial bugs so that when we go full scale we know what to expect and how it is going to work in our environment," Rister said.

Laura Follett, a third-grade English/Language Arts teacher at Friendship Elementary School, says she feels priveleged to be asked to be part of this process.

"It gives me the opportunity to make a difference in our school communities and to help incorporate the latest technologies in the classroom," Follett said. "I love integrating technology into my everyday lessons and with the new wireless system it's easier than ever! I am able to get out from behind my desk and be a part of my students' discussions, while at the same time be able to operate the visual aide on the screen."

Sandra McCorkle, an eighth-grade English/Language Arts teacher at Keller Middle School, is also pleased with the improvements with the devices she is piloting.

"I absolutely love how much freedom I have now that I am no longer tied down to my desk and docking station," McCorkle said. "I flip between laptop and tablet all of the time and carry it around the room with me. The laser projector is phenomenal – the picture is huge and is clear and sharp, even with all of my lights on. The students love when we use the soundbar with its surround-sound feel, and the wireless connector works like a charm as well. Teachers are going to love this new technology and the freedom it brings to our classrooms, and we are so grateful for the bond that passed to allow these possibilities."

Teachers involved in the pilot will rotate between devices this semester and through face-to-face meetings, Google forms and classroom visits, Educational Technology will gather feedback from the pilot teachers, take a recommendation to the Technology Department, and prepare for a future laptop deployment for teachers.

For more information on other Bond 2019 projects, visit www.KellerISD.net/Bond.