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Interview with Mr Callaghan 
Interview With Mr. Callaghan:

I would like to thank Mr. Callaghan for meeting with me on March 31 to answer a few questions about the upcoming BYOD program. Below is the transcript of said interview.

1. What is your vision of students and teachers use of technology?

A:[I] Definitely want teachers to put students in positions where technology can be effectively used to deepen their learning, their understanding, their development of skills that will be required when students move on beyond Westborough High School. To me technology is a tool, I know that for people who have an interest in technology or computer science it’s more of a tool for them because it is kind of a way of life and definitely a potential career. But in many other cases technology is a valuable tool to assist people in doing what they need to do here at Westborough high: learning, engaging, collaborating. Outside of Westborough high it's part of people’s careers. We want to make sure people are prepared for that and that there are some good uses for technology.

2. What is the current status of the BYOD program at WHS for the 2016-17 school year?

A: The current status? We’re in preparation mode, next year all freshman attending westborough high school will have a chromebook issued to them by the district but every tenth grade, eleventh grade and twelfth grade student will be encouraged and expected to bring their own device in. Right now that’s the plan. We have had a group of 12 teachers pilot BYOD throughout the school and we are also preparing staff who were not part of that pilot to anticipate what some lessons and what some activities in their classroom would look like with students who bring in a device, a device that is different than a chromebook perhaps; It could be a tablet; a laptop, mac or pc. [We’re] just getting teachers to comprehend this idea that next year grades ten eleven and twelve students will bring their own device.

3. How did the BYOD pilot program go?

A: I’ve looked at the reflections of the teachers that participated in it and, as any pilot goes, there’s pros, there’s cons, there’s learned benefits, and there’s things that you learn that you don’t want to do again. I think overall pretty positive.

4. What will be the support plan for the the BYOD devices for next year?

A: That’s a good question, I’m waiting to hear that myself. I’m working with our technology director and our tech integration specialists on what to anticipate. I know those teachers that have participated in the pilot this year identified some glitches, some areas that are going to need some more support; logging on to the server was number one, certain apps didn't work with certain devices for another. I trust that we have the right people making decisions and planning ahead, that is just something that we will continue to explore. I don’t really have the answer for it.

5. What difficulties do you anticipate with the rollout of the BYOD program for next year?

A: A lot of needs at once. I think if there are classroom teachers that are having their kids with different devices trying to get online at the same time or log on to the server at the same time, I don’t know how that is going to go. I would anticipate that it’s a big question. [For] wifi access; everyone wants technology, they want it to work immediately. I don’t know if that is necessarily going to happen, we’ll wait and see. I hope people are patient, that we have enough resources to help teachers and students get on. That’s where the ranger tech squad comes into play. If there is a good army of people every period to go out into the school and help teachers get their students on the server, I think we’re in good shape. I think having a good plan, anticipating potential problems and having good people to help out and having a level of patience and understanding as we embark on this is very very important. We have to keep in mind back on the patience piece, Matt, the strategic technology plan has an end date of 2019. This is not going to happen overnight, this is not going to happen next year, this is an ongoing fluid development. This needs to evolve at a pace that is safe, comfortable, and thoughtful for teachers and students.The first day of school it’s not going to be an issue, I hope, because we’ve got time.

6. Is there anything that you would like to say to address the concerns of students and parents, specifically the ones relating to device cost?

A: Well! If we’re expecting families, and students in grades ten, eleven, and twelve by extension, to come in ready to learn with a device in hand; We need to make sure that we are helping those that find that to be difficult, financially especially. One nice aspect of our school culture is the sense of equity and fairness and we just don’t leave people to do things on their own, we need to help those that need a little assistance. If it’s financial assistance, then we currently work with local businesses and local philanthropic organizations to either purchase enough or facilitate the purchase of devices for families that are in need. That would be a good thing that we’d have to keep in mind.

7. Are there any other exciting tech programs that your are planning to rollout for next year?

A: [Laughs] Isn’t this one enough? Interestingly enough, of all the professional development workshops I’ve been to and conferences around technology integration and to assist the learning instruction in schools, there is no real set definition for the word technology. I think there probably was three or four years ago but technology is a lot of things. I think that to be successful next year we need to keep an open mind, we need to be willing and able to try to take a risk with students, and teachers, and administration for that matter. And that’s very exciting, there’s many things; there’s many things, there’s an app, there’s google classroom, there’s a device, technology is more than just a device. Technology is lighting, technology is heating, technology is interactive whiteboards, technology is overhead projectors, technology is bright links. Some of the stuff that we have been doing on a day to day basis prior to this idea of BYOD have been very very important and very very effective so we can’t lose sight of the fact that some of those more common lower-type technology cannot become obsolete. When you have a document reader that is hooked up to a whiteboard or to a brightlink that can become very powerful for a student to see their artwork or see their math work or see their reading, you know things that they’re working on; infocus projectors to watch a movie from a laptop, a clip from youtube or just a bunch of different stuff. That’s technology too so hopefully that stuff keeps going and we enhance our ability to have those in the classroom. Audio, technology is audio as well. What I mean by that is we’ve got some voice enhancers, sound clarifiers, that are in some classrooms throughout the building. I’d like to look at adding to that, right? We might think that we take sound for granted, but there’s great technology out there; there’s redcat systems, a microphone that captures the teacher’s voice and goes to these speakers, or a speaker that just, it doesn't amplify, it clarifies the sound. The classrooms that I’ve been part of where that takes place, it just adds to the focus and the clarity of instruction. You can’t forget those types of things either. A lot of things, a lot of things at play next year, a lot more than just BYOD.

8. What resources are available for parents and how will any future updates be communicated, not just in BYOD but in technology in general?

A: We run a monthly newsletter, we tweet, we have added facebook pages and things like that, we have our website, we have a bunch of different things that can get word out. We’re very responsive so if parents have questions they can ask those questions, often times they do and we clarify. There’s reports to school committee and things like that. There’s a lot of ways to get information out there, I think it’s a matter of who’s listening and who’s watching.

9. How do you feel students and faculty have received the idea idea of BYOD?

A: Mixed. I think it’s been exciting, I think there’s been some apprehension. I think in general people have been open minded about it, wanted to know how technology can be used in a classroom to perhaps better instruction or deepen learning. Our teachers are pretty open minded to it, they’ve seen the benefits of technology in some cases. There are some though on the other end of the spectrum that just want to go, they’ve researched an app that would help them better understand a dissection in a science class. There’s lots of different uses of technology in many areas. Like you would expect with any change or any movement there are some that are at the head of it, some in the middle and some a little bit further behind. And that’s what I mean about having an environment that’s safe and comfortable and allows people to learn at a pace that is thoughtful. Well, people are all over the place with it. Some really want to get going and others just want to do it methodically and use it as organizing and things like that. So, we’ll see. Interview conducted and transcribed by Matt Buffo
Posted by buffomat On 05 April, 2016 at 7:42 AM  27 Comments

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