The Long Review
Too often, reviews of edtech fall short of reality. Sure, speeds and feeds are important to consider,
but how does this stuff work in the real world? T&L will try to answer that question this school
year, when our editors follow the stakeholders at the Village Charter School (VCS) in Trenton, NJ,
as they implement Pearson’s SuccessMaker software on a 40-seat Dell PC desktop network. For a
full, comprehensive look at the project, including specific product details and costs, a profile of
VCS, supplemental resources, etc., go to techlearning.com and click on The Long Review.
THIS MONTH: VCS GETS STARTED
FIRST, THE TANGIBLES:
TECHNOLOGY—VCS had to create two new
curriculum labs to support SuccessMaker—
one with 20 seats for the elementary grades
and another with 20 seats for middle schoolers.
SuccessMaker will sit on its own dedicated
server. The school’s current setup of older
Macs and COWs would not cut it, but the
new Dell systems could handle the software.
FACILITIES—Two new media labs involve
rewiring classrooms with outlets and network
nodes. Both Pearson and Dell were
proactive in assisting VCS to do a comprehensive
SCHEDULING—SuccessMaker is intensive.
At one of several preparation meetings held
this summer, faculty met with Pearson representatives
to discuss how to
work the program into
45-minute sessions a
week is difficult but
imperative. “It’s like
going to the gym,”
says Head of School
Leigh Byron. “Once a week
just isn’t going to cut it.” (Go to techlearning.com to watch
a video of one such meeting as well as a school tour.)
PERSONNEL—To make the most of this initiative, the school
had to assign new responsibilities to staff members. “We’re
going to have a clerical position that will act as the lab manager,”
says Byron. “This person can run the reports, making
sure there is paper in the printer, things like that. This way
the teachers can be working with the kids.”
New hardware also means new relationships for the tech
coordinator and for the
school’s VAR. VCS will
now have a new Pearson
and IT consultant they can tap throughout the year. VCS
has dedicated customer support for its Dell hardware as well.
Of course, none of this will work if one big intangible
isn’t in place. “We have to create a belief system,” says
Byron. “We have to inspire our teachers to believe that
what we are doing will work and the support will be there.
So if something is not working, they can go back and ask
for help…and they won’t be thrown under the bus if it
Watch a brief news video about Village Charter School here.