Technology Debate Needed
I’m writing regarding the recent Gary Stager column article (“What’s a Computer For? Part II, July 2008). I enjoyed it and agree. As director of technology at Buncombe County Schools in Asheville, N.C., I am at war with our technology. I have 30 years of educational technology experience and I’m concerned about the direction informational educational technology. A debate is needed.
Educators are being squeezed between a rock and a hard place. We have a carrot of funding called e-rate, which amounts to $550,000 to the district, which is dangling from a hammer called Children’s Internet Protection Act. The Internet is a great resource for educational information—some good, some bad, some very, very bad. Our children are suffering a digital divide of a different kind. They can get what they need to obtain educational resources and experience at home, but I can’t legally provide the same at school. It has become a dilemma with nowhere to go for guidance. A moral and a legal issue mixed with a desire to do what is right for the children is making our lives very difficult. My passion is to shed some light on this subject and make a difference.
Monty Fuchs, director of technology, Buncombe County Schools
Notification Beyond Emergencies
The story about emergency notification systems by Jeanne Jackson Devoe (“The Evolution of Notifi cation Systems”, August 2008) did a great job of providing a high-level overview of the benefi ts and features of notification systems designed for K12 communities, though it seemed to focus just on their use in emergencies, which they have evolved past.
It’s true that many school districts’ pursuit of notification systems arise from the need for an emergency communication tool—and they are, indeed, a critical component to any district’s crisis plan—but rapid notification systems are widely used as powerful community outreach tools, connecting parents, schools and staff at levels unattainable with outdated technologies and methods. By providing timely information directly from the school, parents are more engaged in the community.
This technology also makes it easier than ever for districts to make data-driven decisions by obtaining feedback from parents with survey and reporting tools. But the greatest result from valuable input and involvement from parents is increased student achievement. Research studies link greater attendance and parental involvement with improved student achievement.
We believe in what we’re doing to bridge the barriers in school communities and increase student achievement around the nation.
Rebekah Powers, communications specialist, AlertNow
In the product section of the article “The Evolution of Notification Systems”, not to mention our company, Global Connect, shows a complete lack of understanding of the market. Obviously not much research or thought went into this important new technology. Global Connect is the fourth largest parent notification company with better pricing than the companies mentioned. I am disappointed in District Administration.
Ryan Bird, executive vice president, Global Connect
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