Technology Innovations Fuel Student Learning

The following district technology status report was originally published in the Above and Beyond Summer 2010 community newsletter.

While the rate of progress and innovation in communications, engineering, medicine, science, and technology continues to accelerate, the need for professionals with innovative new skills becomes critical. As an educational community, we are challenged to prepare students for future jobs that may not yet exist, in markets that have not yet emerged, and with tools and devices currently unimagined. From alternate energy and sustainability specialists, to robotic engineers and genetic architects, future careers will demand that our students possess radically new literacies and talents.

Over the past 10 years, Penn Manor has made significant investments in technology infrastructure, network equipment, technology staffing and teacher professional development. Currently, the district supports over 2600 faculty, student and support staff computers on robust wired and wireless data networks. The district also maintains over 120 “smart-classrooms”, where data projectors integrated audio systems and interactive whiteboards help students engage lessons via rich multimedia tools.

Access to current technology tools is only the beginning of the story. District teachers are embracing new technology-fused instruction methods and focusing on 21st Century skills: collaboration, communication, critical thinking, problem solving and cultural understanding. An observer would notice our classrooms transitioning from traditional lecture formats to collaborative, technology-rich learning spaces where group problem solving and student produced projects become the norm. From live video Skyping with students in India, to blogged book review podcasts, our students are cultivating the higher-order thinking skills necessary to succeed in post-secondary schools, local business and global markets.

When skilled teachers and students fuse technology resources with 21st Century approaches, the results are stunning. Recently, our journalism class revamped a traditional student newspaper into a modern Internet-based publication. Penn Points – The News Magazine of PMHS, is Lancaster County’s first and only fully online high school news magazine. Penn Points student writers take ownership of their work and become authors, producers and publishers of a dynamic online new magazine. With over 45,000 visits since the October 2009 launch, Penn Point student staff have been recognized by the National Scholastic Press Association for the 2010 Online Pacemakers award in student journalism.

Student achievements in technology have been demonstrated time and time again by our strong showings at both regional and state competitions. Most recently, Penn Manor High School students Faith Walausks, Ryan Krause and Julie Kersic advanced to the PA State Computer Competitions for their outstanding graphic and technology design work. Additionally, dozens of middle and high school students have made us proud with awards at Technology Student Association competitions.

Penn Manor is also committed to providing our students safe and secure technology experiences. For the past several years, the district has conduced dozens of student, staff and community workshops on online safety, security and privacy. In addition, our library curriculum has been revised to include Internet safety and digital media literacy. Finally, we continue to expand the number of safe, teacher-monitored online classroom spaces via Moodle and Google’s Docs for Education.

Providing technology program information to the community is also a goal. We recently concluded a series of low-cost and free technology classes. Please watch future building, website and press announcement for upcoming evening course offerings. Additionally, we encourage parents and community members to follow the stories of our classroom technology and learning initiatives via our district website, Twitter account and blog pages.

Charlie Reisinger – Director, Information Technology –  charlie at penn manor dot net
May 2010