GUEST COLUMN | by Troy Parish
Today’s schools are seeing the evolution of technology and experiencing how this enhances the way teachers and students interact. When students return to school this year, the integration of technology will be evident not only in the classroom but in the way technology is used to communicate with students and parents. Along with these implementations come many challenges; however, the long-term benefits for the education industry far surpass the challenges.
Scottsdale Unified School District has converted an old bus into a modern mobile classroom. The district’s new eCoach program uses communications technology that delivers a full suite of versatile tools for managing real-time communications allowing computers and phone systems to seamlessly handle voice, video, or IM as needed. This program saves the district time, travel expenses and offers an intimate way for teachers to easily gain the skills they need to become stronger educators.
The schools within Scottsdale Unified School District operated independently when it came to their phone system – something as simple as extension dialing between schools was not available. When it came to administering their phone system it was a challenge as most moves, adds, and changes required going to each respective school. SUSD evaluated multiple manufacturers, including Cisco, Avaya, Mitel, and Microsoft Lync, alongside ShoreTel.
Ultimately, the school district chief information officer, director of technology and the telecom staff decided to implement ShoreTel to centralize the phone lines at their district office. This will greatly reduce their monthly spend by eliminating the need of maintaining multiple phone lines at each of the schools. The district will have seamless dialing capabilities across their network providing direct access to staff and classrooms. The rollout continues with approximately seven of the sites completed at this point.
Archbishop McCarthy High School is another example of a school that has adopted mobile technology to support its iPad program, equipping every student with an iPad to access their textbooks, take notes, complete assignments, and submit homework. McCarthy is one of the first schools in South Florida to implement this program and is setting a precedent for schools across the nation to go digital. This year at Archbishop McCarthy, every teacher and staff’s iPad includes ShoreTel Mobility, which they use for telephone service, as there are no phones in the classrooms.
“Some schools tend to stay in their comfort zones and miss out on the advantages of new technology. We take the approach of going out there and finding the right partners to help us accomplish our goals, ” says Richard P. Jean, principal of Archbishop Edward A McCarthy High School.
In addition to promoting the school’s green initiatives, the newly effective and responsive communications work environment takes full advantage of modern technology to improve productivity and availability – improving communications between parents and teachers, not to mention the financial benefits from not having to purchase desk phones or wire school.
Mobile solutions benefit thousands of schools and colleges across the globe. This shows the increasing importance of a digital community within education. These technologies are improving the ways in which students learn and are giving teachers the ability to access knowledge and improve their skills.
Troy Parish is vice president of GOV Programs at ShoreTel. He has been in the telecommunications industry since 1996, and a majority of that time has been focused on the Public Sector. He has been with ShoreTel since 2008 and is responsible for their Government and Education Program Nationally. Troy is a self-proclaimed “gadget geek” and is passionate about utilizing technology to enhance communications.