United Visual About Us
Contact Us
Support
Whats Hot
Site Map
    
  

Large LCD purchases help District 211 prepare students for the future

How 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.

The 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.

    Other stories
like this:

 
 
 •   
 •   
 •   
 •   
 •   
 •  
 •   
 •  
 •  
 •  
 •   
 •
 
 

 

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 our society."

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."

For 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.