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What's New for Back to School 2017?

posted Mar 31, 2017, 1:11 PM by Robert Pohl   [ updated Mar 31, 2017, 1:25 PM ]
It has been an exciting few months for the Digital Learning & Technology team as we've worked with vendors to identify the classroom tools, the support services, and professional development needed to "go BIG!" for the coming school year.  This represents a major milestone in the work that the Instructional Technology Steering Committee started two years ago when they were tasked with thinking through a Moonshot for Monroe.  If you remember, your campus ITSC representative worked with others to identify the technologies that would give Monroe's students a competitive edge in their academic studies.  With the community, they developed a comprehensive vision and fundamental belief statements that has guided the work to this day.

Technology transforms teaching and learning by facilitating and encouraging rich and flexible learning environments that engage students, enhance collaboration, and accommodate the needs of individual learners. Technology provides a platform for greater access to global communities and informational resources, and prepares students to compete globally for college and career opportunities in an ever changing world.

On Monday, March 27, 2017 the school board approved (meeting minutes & recording) the Consideration to Authorize the Superintendent to Enter Into Contracts for Technology (item 8.04).   With this authorization to proceed we plan on deploying thousands of student computing devices and outfitting every classroom with  highly interactive and vibrant display technologies.  Over the next few weeks, the Digital Learning team will be sharing this information with campus leadership, teachers, and the community.  We hope you'll be able to attend one of those information meetings!  In coming months, principals will work to define summer installation schedules with the goal that all will be in place in every classroom for the first day of instruction!

Here is the text from that meeting:

In 2014, Monroe passed a Technology Levy promising to fulfill several items by refreshing, replacing or adding current technologies to support learning and current functions across our K-12 district. In the summer of 2016, the district launched a visioning process that produced 3 commitments that will guide our mission. 
 
The 3 commitments are:
  • Equitable access for every student
  • High expectations for every student
  • Powerful instruction for every student
In response, and to fulfill our 2014 Technology Levy promises and support our District’s Three Commitments, we have undertaken to select and deploy classroom presentation technology and student devices across the entire school district.
 

School Board - What's New for Fall '17

According to the Tech Levy we are to refresh and replace classroom presentation packages consisting of a display panel, classroom audio reinforcement system, and document camera. We also promised to refresh classroom computers, certificated stations, as well as office staff work stations and other office technology.  In addition we were to discontinue use of any existing computers posing a security risk, such as those that could not be upgraded from the no longer supported XP operating system.  These XP stations typically consisted of computers ranging from 6 to 12 years of age. As a Digital Learning and Technology Department we set out to fulfill these promises and commitments guided by the following principles:
  • Provide greater access to educational resources for all who attend our district
  • Support innovation and engagement in all learning environments
  • When possible, invest technology dollars locally with vendors who can provide the requested services and equipment
  • Secure the best value that our resources can afford
In November of 2016, our Digital Learning and Technology Department worked closely with local vendors to provide a Technology Showcase for community members, teachers, administrators and board members. 4 vendors (ACT, Troxell, Micro K-12, and CompView) were asked to assemble an integrated classroom presentation package and student device package, that followed outlined specifications (Please see Display Modernizations - Feature Comparison) that:
  • Allowed for seamless interaction between teacher and student devices
  • Provided ease of access for teachers and students, providing students the ability to be engaged in the instructional delivery
  • Provided for mobility to support learning in different classroom instructional settings
  • Provided for opportunities of differentiation
  • Supported innovation, creativity and engagement of students through flexible platforms
  • Provided the greatest value
From December 2016 to through March 2017, extensive vetting and testing of these proposed packages occurred. Simultaneously, several presentations and opportunities to interact with the proposed technology were provided to district staff.  The proposed technology packages were housed at the Wagner Center and several school teams came to interact and provide feedback.  At these presentations, we also showcased student devices and demonstrated how they engaged students to be a part of the instructional process. Each vendor was asked to submit their most competitive pricing and best value for their proposed devices, that met all of our technical and instructional specifications, installation, warranty and support services.
 
Through this process it became clear that by ordering in large quantities of each item, at one time, it would allow the District to achieve the following:
  • Provide greater access to all grade levels at one time beginning in the fall of 2017 (no phase in period over a 4 year period causing some schools or grade levels to wait)
  • Provide a more robust and extensive presentation package consisting of a(n):
    • 4K 75” Interactive Touch display panel
    • Onboard computer (Windows based OPS) with wireless keyboard creating a giant 75” Windows interactive tablet (also allows for Chromebook and GSuite integration)
    • Wireless web camera for classrooms to interact with other classrooms across the district/state and invite educational experts from all over the world to present live to Monroe students
  • Classroom Audio Reinforcement System
  • Integrated Chromebook student devices:
    • 10 touch Chromebook devices for every K-2 classroom
    • 10 non-touch or regular Chromebook devices for every 3rd grade
    • 10 Chromebooks for SpEd and ELL spaces
    • 15 regular Chromebook devices for every 4th and 5th grade
    • Carts containing 32 regular Chromebook in all main content areas at secondary classrooms
    • A total of 4,506 additional Chromebooks district wide on top of the newly deployed Chromebooks from last year and this year.
Through careful review of specifications, testing of their proposed devices, reviews from other districts, feedback from teachers and administrators, pricing quotes, and overall value:
  • ACT was selected to provide the classroom presentation technology package along with installation, 5-year warranty, and support services. They had the solution with the greatest value that supported seamless integration with student devices, provided instant access for users at any ability level, accommodated current instructional practices as well as the ability to expand for innovators and advanced users, supported current curriculum resources yet had the flexibility to accommodate newer curriculum resources and technologies entering the market place. This package allows for teachers or support personnel to record portions of their lessons as differentiated resources for students and parents to view from outside of the classroom.Students can also record their own presentations to reflect and refine their work. ACT also had some of the most competitive pricing for the following items:
Classroom Presentation Package:
    • Boxlight 75” Procolor 4K panel
    • Audio Enhancement Mini XD System
    • Wall Mount bracket(s)
    • Mimio View 340H Document Camera
    • Mimio Software
    • Boxlight OPS Windows Platform (onboard computer)
    • Logitech K400 Wireless Keyboard
    • Logitech C920 USB Webcam
    • Cabling bundle
    • Installation
    • 5-year warranty
    • Onsite Service Agreement
    • Professional Development from Boxlight
    • File Conversion Services (Smart Notebook or ActiveInspire to Mimio)
  • Troxell was selected as the best value to provide the ASUS touch and non-touch Chromebooks, carts and charging devices.Their products provided the most rugged construction, features supporting integration with the classroom presentation equipment, onboard camera to video their presentations, low failure rate, 5-year warranty and white glove service. Troxell offered the best competitive volume pricing for:
    • Asus C213 360 Touch Rugged Chromebook
    • Asus C202 NON-Touch Rugged Chromebook
    • Asus C213 Replacement Parts
    • Asus C202 Replacement Parts
    • Belkin Store and Charge (10 Unit Capacity)
    • Aver AveChrgeC20i (20 Unit Capacity)
    • Aver AveChrgeC36i Cart (36 Unit Capacity)
    • White glove set up of carts and service
    • Management licensing 
In order to purchase for all 362 instructional spaces (with a swap pool of 5 packages) and deploy to all schools at once for the fall of 2017, the District had to consider leasing options as tech levy funding comes in two installments per year (fall and spring tax collections) over the next four years. Although there are financing charges to leasing the devices, the savings from volume purchasing far exceed the cost of financing.
 
Total estimated leasing fees are $447,245.06 based on the cost for the Classroom Presentation Package and Student Device Package of $3,721,563.50.
The total savings for the district to lease to buy the Classroom Presentation Package and Student Device Package at the volume pricing compared to the Digital Edge State Contract pricing is $3,119,399.93.
 
The greatest value to leasing is not only measured in saved dollars maximizing our buying power, but also providing updated technology into our classrooms and in the hands of all of our students. The alternative offers a less desirable outcome of some grade levels or schools not receiving the new technology for three to four years.  If we chose phasing in the technology over time as an alternative, some of our families who supported this levy could potentially have high school students who will graduate before directly benefitting from the new technology. 
 
Another benefit of leasing is that across the district, our Technology Department can remove all remaining Windows XP computer stations that potentially provide a network security risk, and update all student stations with mobile, wireless devices in every classroom. By leasing to own at the end of the levy period and purchasing for the fall of 2017, this option fulfills our tech levy promises, as well as supporting our new district vision and commitments above what was originally proposed. It provides greater access for all students at once, within a faster timeframe, to improve the learning experience and engagement immediately.
 
We therefore recommend purchasing from ACT and Troxell by leasing to own both the classroom presentation package and the student Chromebook devices, including leasing fees, not to exceed a total of $4,168,808.50.
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