Like so many other educators, the teachers at Indian River School District (SDIRC) faced a very contemporary challenge. Traditional learning models no longer served the needs and learning styles of their techno-savvy students. With the majority of students plugged into the internet, cell phones, gaming systems and more, old school methods of black boards, overhead projectors and VCR’s seemed to inhibit learning, rather than enhance it. What’s more, the technology present in classrooms was either outdated or patch worked into other incompatible systems, which was ultimately irrelevant since many teachers lacked the necessary training to utilize these systems to their greatest capacity anyway.
That’s why with more than 16,000 students in 28 schools, it became critical for the SDIRC to meet the widespread needs of its student body, while incorporating a system that could capitalize on its students’ technological skills, keep them involved in learning, prepare them for success in the 21st century, and encourage district-wide teacher participation.
After studying the problem, the SDIRC implemented an initiative they called Ti2 or Technology Integration Initiative. With the School Board fully committed to this three-year program, the SDIRC’s Ti2 would train teachers on how to use technology and integrate it into their curriculum. For those teachers who successfully completed the coursework, the SDIRC would retro-fit their classrooms with state-of-the-art, educationally-targeted technology systems.
Now all they needed was a partner who could undertake such a large implementation at a competitive price, while successfully managing and servicing the needs of the district, its students and teachers.
UDT Account Manager Monica Samaha was no stranger to the needs of the SDIRC. Prior to the Ti2 initiative, Monica had observed the lengths to which some of the SDIRC’s teachers would go in order to integrate technology into their classrooms. Monica witnessed one teacher in particular as she struggled from her car to the school lugging her own personal DVD player and a karaoke machine in order to stitch together a hodge-podge interactive classroom system. Other teachers she met said they had applied for grant money to supplement their classrooms with technology. Monica knew that UDT could provide the solution that the SDIRC teachers sought.
Other IT vendors proposed solutions to the district that called for the outfitting of classrooms with complex systems requiring multiple controls. UDT however, was able to demonstrate how the implementation of the Pole Vault system—an easy-to-use, network-enabled, all-inclusive package—could best benefit the district by serving the students and the teachers’ needs, leading to both an educational and fiscal return on investment.
Ultimately, the SDIRC chose UDT to implement the Pole Vault system into their schools. The district became convinced of the value of using UDT, not only because of the simplicity and effectiveness of the proposed system, but because of UDT’s reputation for quality and customer satisfaction. Additionally, UDT also possessed the capability to facilitate the entire process from start to finish—installation to monitoring, service and repair. In effect, UDT offered the district a Total Solution.
After UDT’s Pole Vault implementation, the district launched a pilot program with forty of their teachers. The teachers determined that the fully integrated system was simple and easy-to-use, commenting that it allowed them to teach in just a few minutes, what they’d never had time to teach before.
Feedback from these teachers was so positive, that the district’s superintendent assessed the Ti2 program as a high impact goal. Teachers who wanted their classrooms fitted with the system were required to take forty hours of training on their own time. So valued was UDT’s solution and its intrinsic benefits, that trainers could hardly keep up with demand for training. By the end of the 2010 school year, all of the SDIRC’s teachers will be trained and all schools retrofitted for the equipment.
And the students? The year before the UDT’s implementation, 74% of the SDIRC’s schools received an “A” or “B” grade from the state*. Now, at the beginning of the third year after program initiation, 95% of the schools in the SDIRC have received an “A” or “B” grade. Certainly, not all gains and improvements can be attributed strictly to the Pole Vault system, but the value of it cannot be understated either.
As a catalyst to significant classroom improvement, the Pole Vault system brought together technology with push button control, simplifying instruction, accelerating learning and in the end, making the SDIRC classrooms a dynamic place to both educate and to be educated.
*Grades are a reflection of student performance on Florida’s Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) in reading, math, writing and science.