Worthington News

Technology today, tomorrow

Worthington BOE weighs bandwidth needs against evolving digital world

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

The day is fast approaching when every student has immediate and uninterrupted Internet access.

How will that change education, and how should the schools prepare for those changes?

Worthington Board of Education member Marc Schare on Feb. 25 challenged educators to address those questions in the near future as he delivered a report on the first meeting of the district's technology committee.

The committee is preparing to decide how much bandwidth to purchase for the district with funds from the 2012 bond issue.

The more interesting questions, he said, involve integrating technology into daily teaching and learning.

Currently, not every student in the district has access to the Internet at home. But with the price of tablets dropping to below $400 and new forms of technology developing every day, the time is approaching when uninterrupted Internet access will be available to everyone.

"My personal opinion, for what it's worth, is that we need to stop thinking about technology as something you teach but rather something that you use to accomplish a learning task," Schare told the board.

The technology committee, led by district technology director Keith Schlarb, comprises administrators, board members, staffers, community members and students. Its first task is to decide how much bandwidth to purchase for the schools, whether any outages are acceptable and how much the district is willing to pay for fewer outages, Schare said.

"Is Wi-Fi even going to be the transport medium of choice for Internet traffic in five years or 10 years?" he asked.

In a nutshell, the district needs to challenge administrators, staffers and teachers to think about a world with no bandwidth constraints and where every student has Internet access all of the time, Schare said.

"What would you do differently? I look forward to seeing the many creative responses that are sure to follow, " he said.

In other matters, the board recognized transportation director George Sontag and his department for exceptional service to Worthington students and families.

Schare presented the award, noting that too often people gain attention only when they fail at their jobs. Sontag, he said, exhibits "quiet competence."

Along with about 80 bus drivers, Sontag not only makes sure thousands of students are transported safely each day but also that the needs of students are met. For example, drivers often report to teachers if they think a student is having a problem, and buses have been designated as "bully-free" zones, Schare said.

Sontag is in his 11th year with the district.

The board also accepted the retirements of Nancy Effron, district school psychologist, and Pamela Spring, special-education teacher at McCord Middle School.

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