Upsala Schools approve extended tech plan and new electronic equipment

By Jennie Zeitler, Staff Writer
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As Elementary Librarian Wanda Erickson presented a video report to the Upsala School Board Wednesday, the flow was repeatedly interrupted while her laptop took time to catch up.

This led directly into Technology Coordinator Curtis Robertson’s presentation regarding the need to update Upsala School’s technology resources.

Robertson had conducted a complete inventory of the school’s electronic equipment as part of his review of Upsala’s technology resources.

Although the school currently owns several of the items, more are necessary for every classroom and teacher to have the same opportunities.

“These are a necessary tool in today’s world,” said Superintendent Gery Arndt. “If we don’t maintain our technology, the youth will fall behind.”

The Board approved the purchase of 15 Macbook Pros, 20 Macbook Airs, three wireless routers with guest access and mounts, three laser printers and 15 LCD classroom projectors including mounts and electrical installation at a cost of $60,000.

Currently, the school has projectors in only 11 classrooms. With 15 more projectors, every classroom will have one.

The printers upstairs and in both the elementary and high school media centers will be replaced.

The contents of both computer labs — an iMac Lab of 35 and an eMac lab of 38 — will remain in place.

The old staff laptops will become a “third” lab which will be a mobile lab on a cart housed in the media center.

During the summer, Robertson will be expanding WiFi access throughout the building to include the gymnasium, media centers and auditorium, for guest access.

“It would be nice to start up our own ‘flipped classroom,’” said Robertson. “Students would have access to notes, information and speeches wherever they are. Research can be done at home or in school, and project work can be saved for the classroom.”

“The teacher can be more of a facilitator that way, not as much of a lecturer,” he said. “We are trying to engage students more.”

An enthusiastic supporter of current technology, and a knowledgeable user, Erickson nonetheless wanted the Board to know that she is still a firm believer in print materials such as magazines and books.

“We still need to teach kids how to problem-solve when the Internet goes down,” she said.

“The reality is that technology is an ongoing expense if we’re going to stay up-to-date,” said Arndt.