Local high schools embrace technology

Megan Paulos --Catherine Grullon, a Ramona High School student, is excited to utilize technology in the classroom.

The rapid evolution of technology is changing the traditional classroom learning environment and some high schools in the Riverside Unified School District have chosen to embrace the change .

RUSD strives to make the latest technology and internet accessible to all students to help prepare them for the college and career ambitions in a technology-driven society.

An important tool high schools use is the learning and content management system, which allows convenient access by students and faculty. This innovation is comparable to the college experience as many colleges and universities, including California Baptist University, are on the Blackboard system for hybrid and online classes.

Martin Luther King High School was on Blackboard until they made the switch this year to the Haiku Learning Management System.

“It’s very similar to Blackboard, but I think it takes Blackboard to the next level. We’ve been training our teachers on that. A number of our teachers are going to paperless homework systems through Haiku,” Darel Hansen, principal of MLK high school, said.

MLK high school is currently in the process of developing a long-term plan to create an infrastructure, which will provide students and faculty with wireless internet access across the entire campus.

“A lot of my students already have the technology, but we don’t have the infrastructure right now to support that…our focus is to get the infrastructure built. So a student can walk into class and be able to log in and walk into all his [or her] classes and be able to access the Internet. So our teachers can access the Internet and use it as a tool for learning and that’s where we’ve fallen behind,” Hansen said.

“We all have the same goals to address and meet the needs of our students in the world of the technology, but being that we’re all in different places and we’re all dealing with different funding and different things like that, we have to develop our own plan. The nice part about what the district is doing is supporting us [each] individually.”

Principal of Ramona High School, Susan Mills, reflected that Ramona High School, which is at a different stage in its technological development, worked with the district to add access points to every classroom in order help make the campus go wireless.

Ramona High School is the first in the state and only the third in the nation to go all digital with its textbooks this year. The school already piloted devices, such as the iPad, in the classroom the previous year.

They also worked with the district to write a $500,000 grant to bring the Data Driven Dashboard Project to life.

It allows students to track their progress from their device. Over 2,200 students and all of the faculty have devices checked out for home and school use.

Students at Ramona High School can access Haiku through an app on their device called Intelligent Papers. The app allows students to access Haiku and do their assignments without the internet. When they arrive at school within wireless access, their completed worked is turned for them by the system.

The district has adopted an “open access” policy, which encourages students to make the devices their own for the school year. They can upload their own photos and music to the device.

Additionally, RUSD’s Technology Plan indicated that over 1,100 classrooms in the district have been equipped with Promethean boards, which are interactive whiteboards designed to enhance the learning experience.

“The traditional setting in classrooms is changing, but they are great changes…I was raised in a very one-dimensional world 13 channels on the television and I learned by reading, listening and repeating the traditional classroom setting. My students don’t learn that way. They’re in a 3D world. They’re visual. Things are constantly changing for them,” Hansen said.

Parents and faculty have also been factored into the wave of technology education.

Ramona High School is already offering training sessions to help parents learn its tablet devices and encourage them to be involved in their student’s learning.

“Sometimes when you implement something in school, you do all this work and training, and do all this stuff to get ready for it. In this case, technology is working so fast that you know you just have to start at a place. We’re just learning as we’re doing. It’s hard. It’s good. And it’s exciting…it has really been exciting for [us] to see how the teachers have embraced it and obviously the kids embraced it much easier and faster than we have, and so they’re pulling us along and that’s pretty cool,” Mills said.

For the most recent happenings on the evolvement of instructional technology in the Riverside Unified School District, go to http://rusdit.ning.com/. To read RUSD’s Technology plan for 2012 through 2016, go to http://www.rusdlearns.net/tarner/insttech/cms_page/view/380153.

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