District plans technology implementation process

Devon Mann, Features Editor

Since 2014, Fenton Area Public Schools has undergone a technological transformation, using money from a public bond to install updated models of computers and software to be used throughout the district.

“Before 2014, students and faculty had been using completely out of date technologies,” district technology director Kevin Powers said. “The last bond that dealt with technology funding occurred in 2005. That left a gap of nine years between the two bonds in which the district experienced no upgrades, which in the technology world is equivalent to about 30 years of progress.”

The bond allocated $11.3 million for upgrades within the district over a course of eight years. The district planned to use the funding for continual upgrades in three phases; the first phase in 2014, the second phase in 2018 and the third phase in 2022.

“In 2014, we were so far behind with technology, we had fallen into a pothole,” Powers said. “For example, our computers were still on Windows XP operating system while the rest of the world was moving onto Windows 8. Before moving on, we had to first fill the hole that we had fallen into.”

As phase two of the bond initiative approaches in 2018, the administration is looking to use the new technology to change how students learn on a daily basis.

“We look to use the bond as not only a way of updating the machines we use, but the way we use them,” Superintendent Adam Hartley said. “I am a fan of the SAMR model. It has four steps. The first two steps are substitution and augmentation, they deal with enhancement, while the final two steps, modification and redefinition, deal with transforming the way we use our technology in the classroom. At this point, I think we have enhanced our technology enough and now we’re looking to transform and redefine how students use technology as a learning tool.”

PHOTO Madi Wheeler

With the 2018 phase of the bond, $4.9 million worth of funding becomes available for the district to use for upgrades. While the district is still in the planning stages of the second phase, there is a general idea of what new aspects would be brought to Fenton as a result of the bond upgrades.

“Additionally, we would try to introduce new audio-visual technology,” said Powers. “New projectors, sound systems and even furniture. Students would use these new rooms to be able to turn and move, work collaboratively.”

With the technological world constantly changing, Fenton schools looks to invest its recent funding into technology that will be relevant for not only today, but in many years from now, as well.

“There is so much planning put into this,” Powers said. “I spend months at a time researching possible upgrades. The choice over which technology we choose to implement is an investment into our future, so we have to make sure we provide the school with quality technology that will last for an extended period of time.”