Technology Takes Center Stage
by Olivia Gumpp, Rachel Turner, and Ashley Warsing
With so much uncertainty surrounding this new school year, technology director Mr. Heath spent his summer making sure that Shenango was prepared for whatever challenges this year could bring. In particular, he, along with the Student Technology Assistance Team (STAT), have worked to ensure that the teachers and students alike are fully equipped to learn while effectively using technology.
Despite a delay in Chromebook delivery, students are within days of having their own devices in their hands to actively use in their classrooms and at home. Due to Covid-19, factories overseas that were manufacturing Chromebooks shut down. Demand for Chromebooks in the United States skyrocketed, so those factories had to catch up with the massive amount of orders waiting for them when they reopened.
The wait is finally over, and after a harrowing week of unpacking boxes upon boxes of brand new Chromebooks, Heath and his STAT team are ready to make the long-awaited plan reality. However, there is a process that goes into distributing the Chromebooks to students. The STAT team will have to add devices to GoGuardian Fleet for inventory management and assign devices for every student in the district. Chromebooks will be distributed from grade 12 down to kindergarten.
Information for purchasing insurance for the device has been sent to parents and posted on the website. Ultimately, students will be responsible for the devices and must “treat it with care as if it were your own device,” Heath stressed.
An additional means of support for students will be launched in the near future. Mr. Heath and his team have created a help center in the library for students to go to when they have technical difficulties. This will take the form of a walk-up help desk staffed by STAT students.
“Mr. Heath has worked really hard to train the STAT team to know how to troubleshoot different problems students may encounter,” senior STAT member Mia Edwards explained. For example, if a student breaks the screen of their Chromebook, there will be spares for the student to use while their device is being fixed.
Shenango staff were also treated to new technology this year and have been equipped with laptops and document cameras so they can prepare online lessons for remote learners. Teachers dedicated time this past summer to learn new software and how to apply it to their classrooms as well as their remote learners.
“I give a lot of credit to teachers,” Heath said. “They really put a lot of work into learning new technology to take advantage of not only all students having Chromebooks but some of those students working remotely.”
Heath and the STAT team put in hours outside of school as well. An additional challenge for the STAT team this year has streaming athletic events. Limitations have been set as to how many spectators can be at games, so Mr. Heath and his team broadcast those games for people who are unable to attend.
“We had to learn a lot about streaming and get some additional equipment for that, but so far things seem to be going really well,” he said. Students can also volunteer to help or learn how to do it.