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LAUSD getting computers to all students at 103 schools

Mike Szymanski | December 11, 2015

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Principal Cindy Agopian and teacher Brandee Ramirez (standing) from Tustin

By the end of next week just before winter break begins, 95 LA Unified schools will have been issued computer devices for the year — one for every student, according to Bill Wherritt, the district’s Distribution Project Manager for the Instructional Technology Initiative Task Force.

The remainder of the 103 schools in a pilot program for one-to-one computer technology will get their devices when students return to school in January, he said.

The delay to some schools was caused by extra requirements imposed by the district before distributing the Chromebooks, iPads or laptops.

“We are asking for more planning that the schools have to do before we bring the devices to the school,” Wherritt said at an ITI Task Force meeting yesterday. Schools have to get agreements signed by students and parents and have a tech coordinator in charge of the devices at each school.

So far, three schools opted out of the device distribution: One charter school and one magnet school are planning their own one-to-one computer program, and another charter school decided that technology was not part of its vision, Wherritt said.

The task force is made up of nearly 50 teachers, students, principals and district staff, charged with devising a district-wide technology strategy for improving the use of computers in classroom instructions. It’s run by Frances Gipson, who was recently named as the district’s chief academic officer.

“It is important for us to share best practices and learn from each other and other districts,” said Gipson, who invited technology experts from the Pomona and Tustin school districts to attend yesterday’s meeting.

“I’m not a techie person, but I have the vision,” said principal Cindy Agopian of Hicks Canyon Elementary in Tustin, a school of 950 students who speak 25 different languages. “Principals can’t use the excuse that they are not good at technology, because I am able to do it, and I’m not.”

Agopian credits her success to having 13 tech coaches for the teachers and being very clear about tech plans for integration into the school curriculum.

In LA Unified, meanwhile, technicians will be upgrading about 130,000 Apple devices to the new iOs 9.2 system. Also, more teachers will soon be in Schoology, which Is approved for  a two-year run in the district. Already, more than 1,000 teachers are trained on the new shared digital site and will be helping with training of others.

The task force meetings are held every two weeks and are open to the public.

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