LCD purchases help District 211 prepare students for the future
do you prepare young people for jobs that have yet to be defined? Thatís
one of todayís biggest challenges for educators, and no one is more
aware of that than the people who teach the 12,000 students in Township
High School District 211 in suburban Chicago.
"We canít prepare them
for a particular career, but we have to prepare them to learn so they
can adapt to changing careers throughout their life," says Bruce
Laird, Technology Director for the five high schools that make up District
211: Hoffman Estates, Palatine, Conant, Schaumburg, and Fremd. Technology
plays a major role in that preparation, and for 30 years Laird has been
at the forefront of the technological revolution in his district. "When
I started in the 70ís only a few schools were doing anything with computers,"
says Laird. Yet today the district is in the fourth year of an ambitious
five year plan that will upgrade and add a variety of computer and a/v
equipment to its classrooms and labs.
plan has allowed each high school to purchase about 30 Sharp or Epson
LCD projectors each year. Administrators at each school decided how
to deploy them, some choosing to ceiling mount each projector, taking
proposals from teachers to help decide who would have the systems in
their classrooms. The others kept their projectors portable, so they
could be shared among those wanting them. Schaumburg teachers, for example,
put in 48 bids one year for their 30-projector allotment.
What makes these projectors
so popular is the districtís already heavy use of technology. In District
211, a media-rich classroom includes a computer, VCR, often a document
camera or flex-cam, and perhaps laserdisc or other media. Laird says
the district looks at technology as a teaching tool, not, in most classes,
as an object of instruction. More and more teachers in every area are
using PowerPoint and other programs to prepare their lessons, and student
projects often include a computer or video presentation as well.
Laird says the district
wanted to standardize their projectors as much as possible, and the
projectors were ideal in an environment where some would be ceiling
mounted and others used on carts. He is also pleased with overall
image quality. Lighting conditions vary widely in district classrooms,
but the projectors hold up very well.
Some may say that technology
is moving too fast, but Laird disagrees. "Our teachers are providing
the same curriculum content, but theyíre providing it differently
and the students are more involved and engaged in their learning.
Whatís happening in schools isnít any different from whatís happening
everywhere else," says Laird. "Itís the whole nature of
Most young people in high
school today have never known life without a computer. " To adults,
who are a couple generations removed from high school, itís all pretty
amazing," says Laird, "but to our students itís not. Weíve
known for a long time in that we have to teach our kids how to learn,
because learning doesnít stop when you walk out the door. Technology
will continue to change, and weíll have to change with it."
the time being, thereís never a day when Laird wakes up and doesnít
want to go to work. "Itís a passion and a joy to be able to do
this every day," he says. "The only constant in our department
is change. Itís always new and exciting and right now it just happens
to be the hotbed." That may be one of the lessons teachers in
District 211 hope to instill in their students. Love what you do and
no matter how fast it changes, every day will be a new experience.
For our childrenís children, todayís computers will be as passeí as
the punch card, but you can bet someone will still have to teach them
how they work.