New Technology: An interview with Tech Director, Dave Tchozewski

With a new school year just days away, the district is working feverishly to prepare hundreds of new Google Chrome books for technology-hungry students. In the midst of the frenzy, Jenison Technology Director Dave Tchozewski had a chance to catch up with us to answer a few questions:

1. Jenison has traditionally purchased Mac computers. Why the switch?

We aren’t switching. We are adding another type of device to our supply of devices available for student learning. With the addition of Chromebooks, we will now be able to offer our K-6 students three different devices to use: iPads, Chromebooks, and MacBook Pros. At the high school, we continue to offer Windows computers too. We are not abandoning the use of Mac computers. We have over 300 Macs for staff use and over 800 Macs available throughout the district for student use.

2. How many Chrome books have you purchased, and where/how do you intend to use them?

We have purchased 612 Chromebooks. Those will be distributed on mobile carts throughout each building with the exception of the ECC.  The Chromebook is an ideal device for districts such as ours that use Google Apps for Education. Most of our grade 3 – 12 students use Google Apps on a regular basis and this “tool” allows for seamless and easy access to any documents created in their Google account.

chrome books, Jenison Public Schools

3. Will these devices replace current computers and tablets or add to your options?

We are adding to our technology options. This is with intent. While many districts commit to one device, we are offering three: iPads, Chromebooks, and MacBook Pros. We want our teachers to develop student projects and then choose the device that will best help students accomplish their task(s). It is not a “one device fits all” world. We are proud to offer several options for teaching and learning.

4. What’s special about a Chrome book?

There are four things that make the Chromebook attractive. First, this device is built specifically for Google Apps users. Second, much of the work done by students requires access to the internet. The Chromebook provides easy access to the internet with a simple interface and operating system. Third, the Chromebook runs on the Chrome operating system and is 100% cloud based.  There is no need for local computer storage of files as they are automatically stored in the cloud. Fourth, it sells for a very attractive price at $249. It really is a robust machine for that price.

chrome books, Jenison Public Schools

5. Did the district purchase any other new technology this summer? If so, please explain.

  • We installed a high quality security camera system at our Junior and Senior High Schools.
  • Our wireless coverage was enhanced this summer with the installation of additional wireless access points. This will provide a better teaching and learning experience for our teachers using iPads in their classroom.
  • We purchased 500 iPads for student use throughout the district. Each building will have at least 60 iPads available on mobile carts.
  • We purchased additional PC laptops for use in the Jenison International Academy.
  • Each classroom in the district has been updated to current classroom technology over the last two summers. They now have an integrated sound system, document camera, digital projector, Apple TV, iMac computer, and iPad.

chrome books, Jenison Public Schools

6. Was this purchase funded by the bond that is building the Fine Arts Center?

The bond that was supported a few years ago by our community is funding these technology purchases. The bond had several parts to it including roofing, technology, the Performing Arts Center and more.

7. As the JPS tech director, would you be willing to explain your involvement with Discovery education  and how your experience with them informs and prepares you for the district’s plans moving forward?

 JPS subscribes to Discovery Education services for teaching and learning. Discovery is best known for providing streaming videos but they offer a very rich supply of other educational resources that cover all grade levels and subjects. Teachers and students can access an array of images, videos, audio files, articles, interactive items and much more.

Our elementary schools have used Discovery Assessment resources as well. The assessment program does a terrific job of providing roadmaps to learning for students. The program is diagnostic and prescriptive, meaning that it shows a students weaknesses AND provides resources that can help a student strengthen those learning areas. In other words, the assessment tells you where students are weak and provides a way to strengthen those specific weak areas.  That is targeted, individualized learning.

This year, the district has adopted the Discovery Science Techbook for our elementary science curriculum. The highly rated Science Techbook is an engaging interactive science curriculum that is built to take advantage of computers, tablets and other mobile technology. Each of the devices we are providing for student use can be used to work with the Science Techbook.

I have been fortunate to work closely with Discovery Education over the last four years as we have increased our use of Discovery products. For each of the past four summers, I have been selected to attend the Discovery Educator Network Summer Institute. This is a weeklong gathering of over 125 Discovery using educators from across the world. During the institute, we work together to develop ways to better use Discovery resources in our districts. That terrific experience helps me to do a better job of supporting our teachers and students when they are using Discovery services.

Our sincere thanks to Dave for his willingness to share these exciting updates!