District gears up to put new technology to use

By: April Lehmbeck | Advertiser Times | Published May 8, 2013

HARPER WOODS — The iPads are in the elementary schools, but not quite yet in the eager little hands of the students.

It was one of the pieces of information in a recent technology update, but the other is that the Harper Woods District Schools is still working hard to decide what type of laptops they’ll be bringing into the high school — whether to go with Mac or PC.

The district has been working on bringing new technology to the elementary, middle and high schools, thanks to federal grant dollars.

“There’s a lot of good things coming … a lot of reasons to be excited,” said David Rabbideau director of accountability and student services.

He talked about the new iPads in the elementary schools. The students had some iPads in the past, but now they’ll have one set for every grade level.

“They’re unable to touch them yet, but they are in the building and they’re asking,” Rabbideau said.

“The enthusiasm is building at the upper levels,” he added about the secondary campus.

While the technology is in for the elementary schools, the district was planning a technology committee meeting to make sure they properly roll out the introduction of the new technology to the students.

They want to make sure they have all the support in place for the students and the teachers. They’re being careful.

“The idea is we want to learn from our mistakes with rolling out technology in the past,” Rabbideau said.

They’re also being careful with the plans for the high school in choosing the type of technology to add for those students, who will be getting one-to-one technology. That means each student will have technology available for their use in the classrooms.

They’ve been researching and even visiting other districts like Fraser, which has rolled out one-to-one technology in the past.

“We’ve had some fabulous visits to other districts that have done this,” Rabbideau said, adding that Fraser “opened their doors to us” and offered anything they needed to help make the transmission smooth.

Superintendent Todd Biederwolf said they are moving through the process slowly “for the right reasons, to better ensure that we’re making the right decisions.”

The students aren’t the only ones eagerly anticipating the new devices.

“Teachers are excited to get them in the classrooms,” Rabbideau said.

Board Trustee Joan Mannino commented that this might motivate students to want to participate in summer programs.

Biederwolf agreed, adding that “technology does excite kids.”