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New technology only weeks away for some Washington County students


Staff Writer

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Washington County will get a boost in technology in the coming months, starting with 31 ClearTouch Interactive Panels that were ordered last Monday for use in the 3rd grade classrooms across the district, according to Washington County School System Technology Director Curtis Fullbright.

He was with Washington County Director of Schools Kimber Halliburton during the Washington County Budget Committee on Wednesday, August 10, to present them with the district’s vision. They also asked for funds to be released in order to bring even more technology into the system, and the committee granted their request to release $640,000 of technology funding for the Washington County School System.

“We do not know what the future jobs look like, but we do know that technology will be a part of that.”

— Kimber Halliburton

Washington County Director of Schools

The presentation was labeled as “immediate needs this school year” and started with 33 Chromebook Labs with touch screen laptops. That will allow all 8th-12th grade English/Language Arts classrooms to offer each student access to a laptop computer during the school day. That is the most expensive item at $384,204.15.
The other part of the order will be 34 ClearTouch Interactive Panels, with 28 going to 4th grade classrooms across the district and three going to both Daniel Boone and David Crockett. Those panels will cost $255,680. The total amount of money requested was $639,884.15.
If the money is passed through the full commission, it would mean that the county would have 67 ClearTouch Panels in their possession — the 65 they ordered and the two demonstration panels that currently reside in Alana Street’s 3rd grade class at Ridgeview and the panel that sits inside the Washington County Board of Education Board Room.

Halliburton said that it would take about two weeks to receive the ClearTouch Panels once they are ordered, she did not give a delivery time on the other devices. The new director of schools said that even with the influx of technology, students will not be sitting in a classroom all day with their heads tuned into a device.

“Quality instruction has a balance, it has a balance of a variety of approaches and so I want our community to know that when we have these technologies devices in classrooms, we aren’t going to place their youngsters in front of a screen all day, it is about balance,” Halliburton said. “But it is also about offering the technology tools to teachers and students for them to be tech savvy in a growing market.

“We do not know what the future jobs look like, but we do know that technology will be a part of that.”

The introduction of technology will help Washington County move from older ways of teaching to the new century style.

“It use to be a sit-and-get type education,” Halliburton said. “Teachers use to sit in front of the classroom and you would be sat next to a student you wouldn’t be guilty of talking to, too much.

“And you really didn’t move about the classroom, until it was time for lunch, for recess or to go to the restroom. It was all lecture driven. Well today, if the teacher is delivering instruction correctly, students should be moving about the classroom.

They should be collaborating with one another on projects and they should be using technology. But they shouldn’t be in front of a screen all day. There should be a variety of programs.”

Halliburton said that she hopes that Washington County students will be introduced to many types of technology while they are enrolled in the classrooms of the system. And it is the system’s responsibility to prepare them for the technology driven workforce of today, which means they should learn how to use multiple devices and know which device to use for certain tasks.

“If a student is facing a project, they should know which device will help them with their outcome,” Halliburton said. “Should I use an Android device? Could I use my iPhone for this? That is one of the standards today, that students are to know which device will help them complete a project.”

As a parent, Washington County attorney Brett Mayes asked Halliburton how the system intends to balance the ever-changing field of technology?

“That is one of the reasons that we went with the ClearTouch Panels,” Halliburton prefaced, mentioning that she has spent countless hours thinking about as they mulled through the technology. “With the interactive panels, content is driven to that, web-based.”

Halliburton also said that Fullbright has revamped the panels so that they will better meet the needs of the teachers in the county with more memory and a different video card.