County Council, Board Of Ed Talk High Tech Costs

They want to know how much it will cost to purchase & replace hardware.

The Frederick County Council and the Board of Education on Wednesday received an update on the Blended Learning program underway at Oakdale High School. But they also raised the issue of the  costs  for implementing and maintaining  technology at local schools.

Blended Learning creates a more personalized learning experience for students, and gives them more control over how they learn. “Our goal is to develop maybe a little more flexible view of what school could be,” said Dr. Kevin Cuppett, the Executive Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Innovation for the School System. “Schools, if you think about it, haven’t changed a whole lot in the last 100 years. Now with the advent of some new technologies and with some new approaches, we believe we can start reshaping what that can look like.”

The Blended Learning program was implemented at Oakdale High School during the 2015-2016 academic year in four, 9th grade English classes, and teachers and other staff say the results are positive. “It might seem more challenging to them because they have so many different ways that they can approach the material instead of the teacher telling them this is how you should do it, or this is how I would do it. They can choose themselves,” says Alyssa Greer, an English teacher at Oakdale High.

And students feel  they had more control over the learning process. “They felt the engagement and they felt empowered. And it seemed to be just a natural step for them as we move forward with this piece,” says Carrie Mehl, Literacy Specialist at Oakdale High.

There are plans by the school system to expand Blended Learning. “For 9th grade English for next year, we’re expanding to work with teachers at Linganore High School, Catoctin and Brunswick,” says Dr. Cuppett. “And we’ll be seeding the devices there so students will have access to the technology.”

However,  any expansion in technology means the purchase of new hardware. “But we not only need to purchase them, but then build in  a replacement cycle to make sure that as those books wear out or go out of date, that we have the money to replace them,” says Board of Ed President Brad Young.  He was referring to chromebooks, which are used in local public schools.

County Council President Bud Otis asked how much the county needs to fund technology in the schools because he says it  will be “growing like wildfire.” “And I just think we ought to have some idea of what we’re looking at or what the possibilities are because I want the best school system in the state. I want the best teachers and I want the best teachers paid in the state,” he said.