South Portland School Department
Name: Andrew Wallace
Title: Director of Technology
District: South Portland School Department, Maine
What are your big-picture tech goals?
We’re currently doing 1:1 for grades 6 through 12. We’re providing half of the sixth graders with iPads to determine the viability of the device for content creation instead of just information retrieval. We are also comparing MacBooks and iPads in anticipation of next June’s state RFP to provide the best product for everyone. Last but not least, we’re gearing up for next-generation assessments and looking to see how technology can help us carry out Common Core.
What changes are you making to achieve these goals?
We’re looking at software like Next Navigator (www.nextnavigator.com/), which helps teachers see how their current units align with Common Core. We’re piloting NWEA Common Core assessment in additional to regular assessments and doing lots of professional development with Common Core in mind. It’s a very different way of teaching and learning.
What are the biggest challenges and how do you manage them?
My biggest challenge is data collection. What sort of impact beyond anecdotal information and student engagement can we get from implementing the right technology? We’re seeing significant gains through well established RTI programs, including Read180 and FastMath.
Another challenge is the unlimited amount of email I receive; it’s nearly impossible to keep up. But our technology department has a definite can-do attitude. We will do whatever we have to do to meet the education needs, but that often requires a lot of work.
How do you get buy-in on ed tech from the school community?
Our community is very supportive. They see the intrinsic value of technology as a way to prepare our students for college and the workforce. Since I’ve been here, we’ve seen technology go from being a “goal” or something to obtain to its now being something we use to accomplish our learning goals. It’s blending into everything so it doesn’t stand out. We need to leverage technology to achieve goals.
What currently has you really excited?
I’ve been working with the state principals, association to educate them about training administrators on iPads. It’s an enthusiastic group of educators that I met through our state’s ISTE affiliate. With the tablet explosion, everyone has a chance to become an expert. You can jump on it even if you missed the laptop explosion. It’s the type of game changer that doesn’t come along very often. It’s a new change, a beginning for anyone who wants to come along.
Program Highlight: Why Portland Implemented Print-Management Software
When the Portland IT department was asked to reorganize printing and copying in the district, Wallace realized it was time for an overhaul. They selected a print management solution that offered the following benefits:
• Confidentiality: Because users are required to enter their network passwords to retrieve print jobs, every print job is only retrievable by the owner.
• Fewer copiers and printers: Since every print job is equally confidential, copiers can be in public spaces, eliminating the need for “student printers” and “staff-only printers.”
• Going green: Paper consumption has definitely decreased, making them feel good about this solution, and saving even more money.
• Accountability: Personal printing has almost completely vanished, because each job is authenticated.
• Targeted billing: The software can be configured to charge perpage costs back to specific schools, departments, or individuals.