LAUSD reboots technology program with launch of new task force
Bethania Palma Markus | April 10, 2015
With the launch of the new Technology Initiative Task Force yesterday, LAUSD is restarting its approach to integrating technology and instruction in the classroom after the last effort ended with an FBI probe.
The Common Core Technology Project drew criticism from the start, in part for questions over the procurement process with software publisher Pearson and iPad provider Apple. The new initiative will be characterized by public access to information and community input from the get-go, the task force chairwoman told LA School Report.
“The goals of this group are complete transparency and to hear the voices of groups throughout the district,” said Judy Burton. “Part of the process will include town hall meetings and focus groups with students, teachers and parents throughout the district before anything goes forward.”
Meetings will be open to the public and everything discussed will be available on a new website, which is scheduled to go live early next week.
“I think the bright light about this is the task force and the district are not just looking at using technology to prepare for tests, but at how to use technology to deliver instruction,” Burton said. “We’re thinking more about what students really need to be successful in college and in careers — today students have to be able to use technology as a tool to learn.”
Instead of uniformly dropping the same device with the same pre-programmed curriculum into the hands of every student, the new task force has set a goal to avoid the previous one-size-fits-all approach.
“The thing that’s most exciting about this task force is it’s not about the central office telling schools what device they should have or what instructional technology model they should use,” Burton said. “The superintendent (Ramon Cortines) wants this to be innovative, and school communities to determine what kind of model they will use and what kind of device meets their needs.”
The task force includes principals, teachers, administrators, parents, students, community members and special resource experts from various local organizations, colleges and businesses.
“You have a monumental job ahead of you,” Cortines told them, in a statement issued by the district. “We have spent more than $100 million dollars on this project and it is now time to regroup and develop a solid plan that allows us to move forward and leverage technology as a tool to improve teaching and learning for our students. We also need our teachers and parents to be users of technology and involved and engaged in this entire process. I look forward to receiving a technology plan that can be implemented across the entire District.”
The task force consists of four work groups that will focus on what and how students will learn, resources needed and how implementation will work. Come December, the group’s goal is to have a set of recommendations for a three-year strategic plan to present the board, according to the task force mission statement.
The Common Core Technology Project was cancelled by Cortines amidst an FBI investigation into whether Deasy showed any favoritism toward Apple and Pearson during during the procurement process.
* Adds comment from Superintendent Ramon Cortines.
** Correction: In December a set of recommendations for a three-year strategic plan will be presented by the task force to the board.