Guy Ballard - Tech Learning

Guy Ballard

It's 1:1 and 21st-century literacy at Niles Township in Illinois.
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Name: Guy Ballard

Age: 54

Title: CTO

District: Niles Township High School District 219

What are your big-picture tech goals for your district?

We are 1:1, and we rolled out netbooks with Ubuntu (a fast, secure, and easy-to-use operating system) to our freshman and sophomore classes. We plan to continue our 1:1 deployment over the next two years until we have a full 1:1 program in our two high schools.

We are continually evaluating technology to find the appropriate platform to deliver content and develop 21st-century literacy skills among students and teachers.

What changes are you making to achieve these goals?

We are focused on finding free and open educational resources (OER) and helping teachers use these materials to deliver content and build 21st-century literacies. We use Moodle, an open-source learning management system (LMS), to develop courses with OER to deliver course content anywhere anytime.

Professional development continues to be a key focus. We have developed three levels of tech courses for our District 219 University. These courses are comprised of face-to-face and blended instruction where teachers are taught to use Web 2.0 tools and embed digital-literacy skills into their curriculum.

We are gearing up to deliver our third course in the technology series, will help teachers develop a hybrid or blended model of learning based on the idea of a flipped classroom. All three courses carry three-credits and teachers receive and use the same technology we give to our students. So far, 80 percent of our teachers have gone through the first course. It has been so well received, we have shared them with other districts and professional organization in our state.

You can find out more at www.niles219.org/technology.

What are the biggest challenges in your day-to-day life and how do you manage them?

Email. I don’t leave the office until I’ve responded to or looked at all of my email, and I get about 450-500 a day. A lot is internal chatter, but I have to acknowledge about 150 of them, and at least 50 need a decision.

How do you get buy-in on ed tech from the school community?

We have a tech committee for school improvement that meets monthly. It’s made up of teachers, administrators, students, and parents. To get buy-in, you need a clear plan and communicate it as many times and in as many ways necessary.

Which technology currently has you really excited?

I believe that technology is a facilitator; it is secondary. More important to me is how are we going to use technology to meet our goals to change and improve education.

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