By Anthony Radovanovich
Volume 68, Issue II
Goodbye, heavy, clunky bookbags. This year, Briarcliff Manor School District became the first k-12 district in Westchester Country to have a one-to-one ratio of students to devices.
Once the district-wide one-to-one plan was adopted, nothing was going to stop the persistent Briarcliff Technology Department. For the last four years, the program has been a work in progress. Technology in the classroom is a great idea; however, it was necessary to test the rollout before the initiative affected all students. Students in fourth and fth grades were the first to receive devices. While some may think making a classroom digital is as simple as giving each student a computer, much more is necessary. All faculty underwent numerous training sessions in order to understand how to most efficiently utilize the technology. In addition, most students and faculty are familiar with the numerous failures, breakdowns, and in turn, frustration affiliated with technology. For this reason, Briarcliff has a comprehensive technology department at all three schools to help manage these issues. In the middle and high schools, certified students help in the tech center in addition to the faculty. Certified students took a course over the summer to become Certified Mac Technicians and now work with the tech department during their free periods.
The introduction of technology into the classroom has consequently resulted in a shift in teaching style. Before the rollout of Briarcliff 2.0, a teacher stood in front of his/her class and lectured. Maybe teachers handed out worksheets, but any activity needing technology required a trip to a computer lab. Those days are gone. Stationary computer labs have now been repurposed, and students can now work either collaboratively or individually with their devices in more self-guided learning. The personal resources allow students to apply learned concepts on their ownand gureoutwhatmethodof learning works best, allowing for a more in-depth understanding of the learned material.
Despite all the progress made by the district in this initiative, the administration and tech department are looking to make improvements and enhance existing technology whenever and wherever possible. Apple TVs were recently added to many SmartBoards and PPI boards, allowing for students and teachers alike to wirelessly display content from all devices, not just those distributed by the district. Only teachers previously had the ability to hook their computers up to the boards. The new printers, an upgrade from FollowYou, have the same functions as the old FollowYou printers and are also equipped with AirPrint. Any Apple devices can now send documents to the printer even if, once again, they are not distributed by the district.
It must be noted that technology in Briarcliff is in a transitional phase. Although every student and teacher is equipped with a device, many teachers still favor traditional means of educating. Transitioning to a paperless education is the next step in this initiative. Digital textbooks that could be updated more frequently and eliminate the need for heavy books could potentially be added to each student’s computer. Briarcliff is breaking down technology barriers, and there are no signs indicating that will change in the future. It may seem to current students that they will not see the nished product of this initiative, but there may never be a finished product.