By September, high-speed wireless Internet service should be available across the entire campus of the Genoa Area Local School District.
The advance in technological services will allow the western Ottawa County district to bring more innovative education to students district wide, says Tom Baker, the district’s technology coordinator.
The newly constructed Genoa Elementary School, which opened its doors this school year on the consolidated campus along Genoa-Clay Center Road, is already wired with Wi-Fi service. The high school and middle school do not have that Internet service available.
This spring, Baker is gathering information from various vendors to put together a bid package for the system. School officials hope to have the upgrade finished by the start of the 2012-13 school year.
The package will also include some changes in security systems, said Superintendent Dennis Mock. The monies will come from the permanent improvement fund for equipment with lifespan of more than five years of service, he said.
Currently, Genoa Schools operates with a strict no cell phones in the classroom policy, according to Mike Vicars, assistant principal at Genoa Middle School.
The introduction of Wi-Fi next year will change that to some extent. The district will move toward empowering students to use their personal tech devices to enhance their education, Baker said. Officials in are the process of creating new rules to allow a variety of technological devices to merge with structure of daily education.
Those rules will include a responsibility clause for students as well as outline violations and their repercussions.
“Some of the kids have devices in their hands that are more powerful than some of the machines within in the school,” he said, reading off a litany of devices available from Kindles and Ipods to Droid cell phones.
“It’ll be BYOT,” said Baker, an acronym for “Bring Your Own Technology.”
“This is not just one standardized mobile device that can be used. It will be a blended environment,” Baker added.
The venture into allowing more technology will have a learning curve though.
“Not every teacher is for the cell phone use in class,” Baker added.
That is why the process will involve teachers on a volunteer basis in this first year.
“This requires great teacher management. Not all will do it. It’s not going to be a free for all here,” Baker insisted.
Still, the goal is the same. “We are trying to empower the kids to put their technology to use.”