QSD board hears about digital tools for learning

Shawn Fuller presents a district technology report to the Quincy School Board on Sept. 13.

The start of the school year, that day when students return to fill classrooms and halls again, went well this year.

“This year I heard from both parents and from teachers (about) what a good rollout the beginning of school was,” said Chris Baumgartner, a member of the school district board of directors, during their Sept. 13 meeting.

With opening day in the rearview mirror, the main topic of the school board meeting was technology.

Shawn Fuller, Quincy School District technology director, and Camille Jones, digital education coach, gave a report, supported by slides, to the board, reviewing the tech group’s sweeping changes and additions over the past three years. Here are some highlights.

Three years ago the technology team decided on a mission statement and a plan, Fuller said, and the first goal was to increase access.

“We want to have digital tools for daily learning at school available to every student, no matter what the situation is,” he said.

The goal also is to have smooth startups in fall, with devices ready to go. The district also wants a shared sense of responsibility for the Chromebooks assigned to students. And lastly, the access goal also means digital tools are available to students at home.

“We are gettting closer and closer as the days go on,” he said.

The tech and digital education team has rolled out significant improvements. It developed a flow chart to direct and allow decisions about what to do with the devices in the district – it has about 4,500 devices – to be made at the building level. The team is also building live and recorded support to back up the staff and students. They also created a digital help desk and ticket system.

Last year, the team rolled out a digital educational handbook, Fuller said, covering topics such as hardware, curriculum and data support tools. The handbook is on a website for the staff to use.

Spreading the in-person help, the district added tech reps at each school building. There used to be one at the middle school and now there are three tech people there, Fuller said. A couple of years ago, the high school had one tech rep and now has four.

“It has been a really big improvement over the past couple of years,” he said.

Jones took her turn at the microphone, saying she started in the position as the pandemic began and remote learning began. A lot of her work is with teachers, connecting people with digital tools and developing the supports they need. One example was, during summer 2022, the team developed training for substitute teachers.

Launching this fall is a homeroom portal for students and parents to access for the first time, loaded with information about each student.

“It is very friendly to look at, and the formatting is really nice, it also is fully translated” into Spanish, Jones said.

At the conclusion of the presenation, board member Heather Folks-Lambert said the Fuller and Jones were doing a great job.

“This is excellent work. I am really impressed,” she said.

Baumgartner asked about security for students’ academic records.

“Just to be reassured that others aren’t able to get into those systems and find out what their fellow students are doing or other families are doing,” he said.

His question began a discussion of cyber-security, including protection of student data.

In other matters before the board, Superintendent Dr. Nik Bergman said Felicie Becker, principal of Quincy High School, had led the school through a long, detailed process of accreditation with the Association of Educational Service Districts. It was a three-year review and will come up again in three years. Becker then gave the board a summary of the accreditation work, saying the process was very supportive.