Central strives to become tech-friendly

The new school year ushered in new technological policies, problems, and restrictions for staff and students at Hinsdale Central.

The district installed new wireless hubs throughout the school, but connectivity issues between these hubs and projectors led to projector failure in many classrooms.  In response to these problems, Central administration had consultants examine the problems that inhibited some teachers’ classroom performance.

Before classes even started, students faced difficulty with technology at Central.  The virtual bookstore created through Follet made some students’ start to school easier, and others’ much more stressful.  The procedure for buying books this year changed; students were responsible for printing a “requested courses” list of Home Access Center in June so that, come August, they could order books online before seeing their schedules.  In previous years, schedules were released once finalized in late July.  This year, students received schedules only upon entering school in the last week of summer to pay dues and purchase an ID.

Assistant Principal Bill Walsh said that the virtual bookstore is only the beginning of a transition to a more technological school year.  “We are striving for an all online approach so that eventually students will not need to come on campus until the first day of school,” Walsh said.

A reoccurring problem at Central is the Sharepoint connection.  A site most teachers use for course documents, Sharepoint is a fundamental tool to students.  Some teachers create their own websites to avoid these problems.  “We want teachers to have a web presence.  It would be ideal if all teachers used Sharepoint, but some prefer the flexibility of their own websites. The only thing we really stress is a ‘Splash Page’ that directs students to whatever site they use,” Walsh said.

Despite various technological setbacks, Central is making attempts to become more tech-friendly to students.  The new cell phone policy allows students to use cell phones during non-instructional times.  Most teachers made an individual device policy outlining what is appropriate in their classrooms to combat the ambiguity of “non-instructional time.”

Also outlined in some teacher’s policies is the appropriate use of laptops.  The administration is still, however, controlling site restrictions for Internet users in the school.  “There are three levels of Internet restrictions: staff, student, and visitor,” Walsh said. Although facing various problems, Central administration is striving for modern technology rules that enhance the educational environment without allotting for too many distractions.