Having access to current technology and knowing how to use it effectively is essential to student success in the 21st century. But keeping up with the exploding rate of change in technology is a constant challenge for the Cherry Creek School District.
“The demands are escalating exponentially,” said Ben Startzer, the district’s Chief Information Officer, during a presentation to Parents’ Council on March 12. “Given the rate of change in technology, every student is a “STEM” student; a student who must have a strong foundation in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. We are working to ensure that our students have access to information, via the Internet, anytime, anywhere, with any device.”
Startzer explained that the district laid a strong technological foundation with bond funds voters approved in 2008. The district now has a 75-mile fiber optic cable network, wireless access in every school, and through the district’s “Guaranteed and Viable Technology” (GVT) program, every classroom teacher has a computer, screen and projector.
In spring 2011, the district conducted a technology survey of students, parents, teachers and administrators. 5,282 people, representing every school in the district, responded. The survey identified the following technology themes:
1. Relevancy – educational technology must have real-life relevancy to today’s students
2. Mobility – students must be able to utilize technology in many places
3. Balance – there must be a balance between instructional technology and humanistic values
4. Every student is a STEM student
In fact, 97.4 percent of the students, parents and educators who responded to the survey believe it is “very important” for Cherry Creek Schools to provide a focus on STEM education.
In addition, a recent report from the National Governors’ Association states “In the new global economy, states need a workforce of problem solvers, innovators and inventors who are able to think logically.”
Because of severe cuts in state funding for education, the district has not purchased new student computers for nearly three years and is now focusing on providing students with access to the Internet anytime, anywhere and with both district and student-owned devices, including computers, iPads, iPods, smart phones and tech tools that haven’t been invented yet.
“87.2 percent of the students who responded to our survey said ‘knowing how to use technology is important to my future’,” said Startzer. “We won’t let them down.”