Name: Doug Johnson?
Title: Director of Media and Technology, 20 years?
District: Mankato (MN) Area Public Schools ??
Tell us some of your big-picture tech goals for the year.
One of our biggest goals is to move more of our applications into the cloud. This year we’ve moved to GoogleApps for Education for both staff and students and we’ve moved our library systems to a hosted solution. These join our website, IEP program, finance, and HR systems that already reside “in the cloud.” By reducing internal hardware and maintenance needs, this will provide us a lower TOC. As budget cuts loom, we’ll need to think really smart about how we deliver excellent resources with fewer dollars. The second and more important goal is creating a better alignment of technology efforts with our curriculum and staff-development departments—helping the district meet its strategic goals. Making good use of student data and embedding technology skills into the content areas are the major areas at this time.
What tech accomplishment are you most proud of?
We’ve had a busy year. I’m proud that GoogleApps has gone over so well, with teachers really using the product to improve communication and collaboration. We’ve just installed a new Cisco VOIP telephone system throughout the district—more than 1,250 handsets. And we are just finishing the installation of projectors and SMARTBoards in all our K-12 instructional areas.
Our elementary library media specialists have written Essential Learner Outcomes for information and technology literacy skills K-6 and we’ve identified all the 7-12 tech skills and assigned them to classes. Whew! ??
Are you planning to let students BYOD? If so, when??
We’ve never had a district policy that bans student-owned devices, allowing buildings and teachers to set their own rules. In fact, we’ve provided “guest” wireless access for students for the past few years that provides Internet access. I hope we will be providing some “specs” to help guide parents who wish to purchase devices for their children that will work with school resources.??
Traditional or online textbooks?
Traditional, I’m afraid, but even these are coming with digital supplements. I’m waiting for the first textbook publisher that will work on a cell phone plan model: subscribe to our textbooks for the next ____ years and we throw in a reader for every student for free. I’m cautiously optimistic the Android tablets might eventually reach a price point that they will make economic sense as e-textbook readers.??
Can your students/teachers use Facebook, MySpace, or other Web 2.0 tools?
We block only pornography as required by CIPA in our district; everything else is open. Social networking now is about where e-mail was in the early ’90s—new and strange enough to make old people fearful. We’ll get over it.??
Professional development: face-to-face, online, or blended?
Face-to-face. We’re proposing a new model this fall that will have an online follow-up and support for summer F2F classes.
What are some of your guilty pleasures?
I love watching action movies of no redeeming social value; reading mystery, hard sci-fi, and historical fiction; and doing world-class hikes. (Climbed Kilimanjaro in 2010.) Writing deliberately irritating opinions in the Blue Skunk blog is also a genuine pleasure that I suppose I should feel more guilty about.??