Kyle Berger - Tech Learning

Kyle Berger

Alvarado ISD's Kyle Berger shares his tech goals for his district.
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Name: Kyle Berger

Age: 33

Title: Executive Director of Technology, since 2004

District: Alvarado (TX) Independent School District ??

Tell us some of your big-picture tech goals for the year.

One is an advancement in technology interface with special needs children. I feel that within the coming months what we are able to do with this technology will be exciting news for others to use in their districts. We are developing applications to push content to students and stakeholders where they are 24/7—mainly in the mobile platforms preparing us for BYOD (bring your own device).?? More advancements in virtual desktop environment will allow us to expand the lifelines of district devices but also prepare us for the BYOD evolution.?? Expand on our district’s data-driven abilities and be able to present needed data in simple forms to all parties involved.??

What tech accomplishment are you most proud of?

The 1:1 movement in grades 4-8 is one that I am proud of because it shows the district values technology in the classroom and so many people came together to make it happen. Our community outreach program providing free Internet access is another one that I enjoy because it turned out to be a completely self-funded initiative that has reached out to our community to provide needed access. On the technical side, I am proud of our award-winning disaster-recovery initiative that connects schools across the country with disaster-recovery ability for free, and our streamlined automated-business process that make overall user and program management a non-issue due to advanced identity management and provisioning. ??

Are you planning to let students BYOD?If so, when??

We are currently looking at the BYOD game plan for our district. With us already having a large 1:1 deployment in grades 4-8, the need for 1:1 computing at other levels is apparent. Our overall thinking goes to us standardizing on district-owned devices in the lower grade levels (possibly up to 8th grade); at that point we want to let the technology become more personal to the user but also beneficial in the education as well. So BYOD is targeted to our high school students. We are looking at pilot rollouts within the next nine months for phase one.

Several factors have lead to a slower adoption of BYOD for our district. One is the potential classroom difficulty with a mixed population of devices to teach to and the impact on instruction. Mainly we want to insure that the tools are not a distraction in our educational environment. That, along with a have-and-have-not situation among our students, is also a factor. The leading action driving us to this is of course funding as we are being hit with dramatic decreases each year.

Traditional or online textbooks?

Our district already has a very large collection of e-books. We are moving toward more textbooks online as we have found the content to be better and more appealing to our students. I believe no matter what advancements there will always still be some need for traditional books in education. Even thought we offer a large collection of electronic books we still have traditional based books in our library.??

Can your students/teachers use Facebook, MySpace, or other Web 2.0 tools??

At this point Facebook/MySpace is limited internally for students. We are constantly evaluating these tools but moving a bit slower on those sites due to increase in cyberbullying. However, the district and campus locations do have a presence on Facebook and use it often to communicate. Outside of these two sites we are open to other Web 2.0 tools like blogging and podcasting for students and teachers.

Professional development: face-to-face, online, or blended?

In my opinion, blended is the key. The need in some instances for face-to-face is apparent, but online is valuable for just-in-time learning or refresher- based learning for end users and professionals.??

What are some of your guilty pleasures?

I work too much, I always finish what I start (which is a pain sometimes)…. I’m an artistic, creative person and I used to manage a large arts & craft store. Some of my hidden talents include cake decorating and graphic design.

 To hear more of Berger's thoughts, click here.

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