Technology Initiatives

Elementary Schools - iPads and Projectors

At the beginning of the 2013-14 school year, the District provided each elementary school with an iPad cart and 25 iPad Minis. Many classrooms were also provided with an iPad for the teacher to use as well as a projector and document camera stand. These individual iPads and projectors were provided through the generosity of our PTO’s in addition to some district funding. We anticipate all elementary classrooms to have a teacher iPad, projector and document camera stand by the end of the 2014-15 school year.

Finalsite Teacher Web Pages

For the past several years, all Madison teachers have established a web presence through our content management system, Finalsite. As a result, teacher web pages have a uniform look and feel throughout the district. Initially this tool was primarily used as a way for teachers to post homework assignments and test schedules online, but as teachers have become more comfortable with it, they have been exploring its robust feature set. Many teacher web pages now feature discussion boards, blogs, online quizzes, embedded videos and links to other instructional resources. Included in Finalsite is a “Social” feature that allows students to message each other as well as teachers.

Google Apps for Education

Last school year all 8th grade students and some DHHS and Brown students participated in a pilot for Google Apps for Education, which includes a suite of cloud-based storage and productivity applications. The District established a Google Apps for Education Domain through which students used Google Drive and Google Sites to collaborate in real time on documents, presentations, and websites from any Internet-connected device. This year, the use of Google Apps for Education has expanded to include students in grades 5-12. MPS Google accounts exist within a “walled-garden” meaning that, by default, Madison users can only collaborate and share documents with other Madison account holders. E-mail has not yet been activated for these accounts, but it is our intention to do so in the near future. Providing a protected email environment for students will improve communication and facilitate collaboration further. As with all Google Apps, Gmail will only function within our domain of MPS users.

Wi-Fi in the Secondary Schools and BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)

Last year Wi-Fi was installed at both middle schools and the high school as a way of giving students and teachers better access to digital learning resources. For example, students can conduct Internet research and compose notes, teachers can check for understanding via student response mobile apps, and classes can participate in live back-channel discussions, all from their own mobile devices. To varying degrees, students in all three buildings have been encouraged to take advantage of wireless access to the Internet by bringing their own mobile devices to class for learning purposes when the teacher deems it appropriate. Moving forward, teachers continue to explore best practices for utilizing mobile technologies in the classroom.

Wi-Fi in the Elementary Schools

Wi-Fi in the Elementary Schools has been fully implemented and is primarily used in conjunction with iPads as well as for teacher efficiency and mobility.

Chromebooks Pilot at DHHS

While students have been encouraged to bring their own devices to school for learning purposes, certain tasks demand a screen big enough for sustained reading and a physical keyboard for sustained writing. One high school course where smartphones and tablets do not fit the bill is Journalism. One solution currently being piloted by the DHHS English department is Chromebooks. These ultraportable laptops are multi-user devices that offer little in the way of local storage, instead giving students access to the Internet and Google’s cloud-based services, namely the Google Apps for Education suite described above. This pilot will allow the district the opportunity to evaluate the potential use of Chromebooks for other purposes as well. Given that all students do not have access to a device of their own, Chromebooks are also being considered for a “lending pool” of district supplied devices that would be made available to supplement the BYOD initiative.