Burbank Unified has its eyes on technology

Burbank educators are taking another step toward establishing more technologically advanced classrooms nearly a year after voters passed the $110-million Measure S bond.

The bond has emerged as a timely resource for the school district, officials say, as they begin to implement the new Common Core state standards that promote greater use of technology in the classroom, such as multimedia presentations, as well as more in-depth critical thinking, reading and writing skills.

School officials estimate it will cost $9 million — or $10,000 per classroom — to bring the 21st-century technology to students.

In preparation to teach the new standards that be in full implementation by 2014-15, the school district initiated a 21st-century learning experiment during the last school year.

Eight teachers volunteered to house advanced interactive white boards or projectors that play video and respond to touch. They also experimented with tablets, tools that amplified teachers' voices and clicking devices students use to respond to questions during lessons.

The district's technology committee shared its recommendations to the school board this week based off their experience.

In a teacher survey conducted in late 2013, 37% of educators suggested using both interactive white boards and tablets or notebooks. Another 32% said they felt only one-on-one devices, such as tablets, were needed in the classroom, according to a district report.

In the upcoming weeks, the committee plans to test e-readers and devices such as Chromebooks to determine which device could be best to work with.

In the neighboring school district of Glendale, school officials experimented with three devices before purchasing 1,300 Chromebooks in late 2013 after students indicated in a survey that those devices were easy to use.

As the Common Core standards loom closer, so do the computerized exams that will replace traditional pencil and paper tests in all California districts.

In the meantime, Burbank Unified is still expanding its wireless infrastructure.

Burbank High teacher Bill Gallimore, who teaches American Sign Language, told the school board this week he regularly runs into hurdles when he opts to use an iPad he's brought to class.

"You can see there's a Wi-Fi signal, but you can't quite make it work," he said.

School officials will also plan to offer educators opportunities to learn how to work new technology, and make decisions centered on teacher input.

"I am absolutely putting my faith in what the teachers are going to select," said school board member Roberta Reynolds.


Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan.


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