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Hampton/Shaler

Technology-based learning moves forward at Hampton

| Monday, March 13, 2017, 11:50 p.m.
First-grader Allison Wenger programs her Beebot at Wyland Elementary on March 10, 2017.
Louis Raggiunti | For the Tribune-Review
First-grader Allison Wenger programs her Beebot at Wyland Elementary on March 10, 2017.
Ava Mabold and Nevaeh Patrick spell with  iPads at Wyland Elementary on March 10, 2017.
Louis Raggiunti | For the Tribune-Review
Ava Mabold and Nevaeh Patrick spell with iPads at Wyland Elementary on March 10, 2017.
Ben Wyland, Reagan Kratzer and Troy Kratzer use several types of materials used in engineering at Wyland Elementary on March 10, 2017.
Louis Raggiunti | For the Tribune-Review
Ben Wyland, Reagan Kratzer and Troy Kratzer use several types of materials used in engineering at Wyland Elementary on March 10, 2017.
Evan Lochie and Connor DiCaprio learn spelling at Wyland Elementary on March 10, 2017.
Louis Raggiunti | For the Tribune-Review
Evan Lochie and Connor DiCaprio learn spelling at Wyland Elementary on March 10, 2017.
Wyatt Profozich and Brody Popowich take part in Wyland Elementary's Steam Cart program on March 10, 2017.
Louis Raggiunti | For the Tribune-Review
Wyatt Profozich and Brody Popowich take part in Wyland Elementary's Steam Cart program on March 10, 2017.

The Hampton Hub is a new digital transformation shift that is taking place in Hampton Township School District.

Michael Loughead, HTSD superintendent, provided a presentation at the school board work session on March 6 which revealed steps on how the district can ready its students for today's digital learning and working environment.

The Hampton Hub is intended to provide instruction on a day-to-day basis, with technology used not just occasionally or for certain projects and events, but as an “immersion tool” on a regular basis.

“I think we're ready to make this transformation,” he said.

He introduced a four-year roll out plan to provide each student with their own computer or device. To support the idea, he and an instructional leadership team followed the concepts of a national study called Project Red that reflects on how technology-transformed schools can save money if applied correctly.

Currently, along with computer labs, the district uses avenues like STEAM carts, designed and built by students, which hold technology and other learning tools in a mobile cart that can be taken throughout classes in each school when needed. As these devices reach the end of their lives, the carts will not be necessary as students each are outfitted with their own technology, said Loughead.

Some savings to technology-based education include eliminating the high costs of textbooks, printing and copying, and replacing written assessments with online assessments, he said. Textbooks will still be necessary as readers in elementary, Loughead said.

Ed McKaveney, the technology director for the school and a member of the instructional design team, said using a school-issued device makes learning more uniformed and “consistent.”

They expect a cost of $300 per device and McKaveney said that was reasonable. Loughead said the roll-out plan makes purchasing these devices more financially capable for the district instead of all at once.

School board members questioned insurance and Loughead suggested they are investigating those options, but most likely some level will be purchased.

McKaveney said he noticed students seem to be more careful when they have their own device compared to ones they share with other classmates.

To help defray costs in regard to things like insurance, Loughead suggested a small contribution may be requested by each family.

Board member Lawrence Vasko noted that this may be cost prohibitive to some families. And if they do not have Internet access, it's not fair to have them have to go to public places that offer free wireless service.

Loughead said they thought that they might set up an “angel fund” which would help provide families with any district-required costs. Also, McKaveney said there are some avenues to get discounts or free Internet at home, such as a program through Comcast. Also, this is an opportunity for parents to be able to have the district provide a device for students and not have to buy one themselves, which would be a cost-savings to them.

More specifics on how to proceed budget-wise will be presented to the board in April. This digital shift is what students need to compete in a world and a future that is technology-based, noting that it's the district's mission to provide for the best education, according to Loughead.

Natalie Beneviat is a Tribune-Review contributor.

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