FAQ’s

FAQ’s  | WETF is proud to answer some of the main questions that have arisen from our many presentations to the public. If you have a question you want answered please let us know so we can add it to our FAQ’s in the future.

WETF Details


Creating a level playing field for schools and students is the goal of the WETF. Two factors will determine the timing and success of WETF campaigns: teachers’ making grant proposals and parents / communities donating to meet them. Part of the WETF’s responsibility is to monitor proposals with an eye to each school having access. Quite often this is more a case of encouraging new projects than limiting proposed projects.

Grants are first requested by a teacher with a project proposal to the principal of their respective school. Once the teacher and principal have agreed on the proposal, it goes to Assistant Superintendent Daniel Meyer to be vetted. Once it passes his approval, it goes to the WETF to vote on the proposal.

The great thing about technology is that it is the final dollars that can have the largest benefit. Think of a classroom with 20 students and 18 iPads. The teacher cannot neglect the two students without the resource, and thus will not be able to fully teach to the resources for the other 18 students. But if those last two students can get funded, now the full value of the technology can be unlocked for all 20 students. Thus funding two extra students enables the taxpayer investment of the other 18 to be much more greatly realized. The same analogy would apply to a second grade (needing 6 iPads per class) with enough iPads for only three classes, being provided with funding for the other two classes, allowing all five classes to fully incorporate the technology into their curriculum. Or a school with two classroom sets getting a third. While the school department is making huge strides in addressing the technology equity gap for all schools, project funding of this sort allows the pace of gap-closing to accelerate. Project funding of this nature supports innovation and remains tied directly to teacher creativity and dreams of the classroom–not at the mercy of bureaucratic town budgets.

Technology in the Schools


Yes, technology can improve classroom performance. It engages students toward active creation with new material, discouraging passive intake of content. Students can use technology to make their learning visible through multi-media creation, collaborative projects and writing and speaking for a variety of audiences and purposes. Beyond in class performance, familiarity with information technology improves their post-graduation readiness for both higher education and workplace skills. In addition, technology use in a blended learning environment has been proven through extensive research to provide higher levels of learning and retention of material, allows teachers to track student progress and provide a more tailored plan for each student (Huang, Y. M., Liang, T. H., Su, Y. N., & Chen, N. S., 2012; Zhang, D., Zhao, J. L., Zhou, L., & Nunamaker Jr, J. F., 2004). The teacher is helped by tools allowing for faster interim feedback and can review student work faster and in collaboration with the student; formative feedback of this type has been proven, through research, to provide the greatest levers for elevating learning (Hattie, 2013; Marzano, R. J., Pickering, D., & Pollock, J. E., 2001; Means, B., Toyama, Y., Murphy, R., Bakia, M., & Jones, K., 2009; Watson, 2008).

While Westborough has been successful in traditional measures of student achievement, new indicators of workplace success have become apparent (NACE, 2015). In terms of simply having the resources to train Westborough students on these 21st century and beyond work and life, some schools are 5 years ahead, others are only one to three years ahead. For example, looking at traditional metrics, graduation rates and college placements reflect recent graduating classes, which have not benefited from technology adoption throughout their full educational career, even for the earliest adopters. But if WPS waits, the technological gap will build and will eventually show up in these measures. And by the time it does, it will be too late. The Westborough school system is playing catch up from years of not addressing this technology equity gap. We do not want our students to miss out on exposure and experience in learning and growing with this model of learning, presenting and working. If we do not provide the resources, technology stands to be the next equity divide for equality in student learning.

Technology Use in General


Whether it is eyesight, sleep disruption, or behavioral impacts, without question, the appropriate use of technology is an area of concern for parents and educators alike. The American Association of Pediatrics has recently published some preliminary work on this subject.

Like all technologies, there are both benefits and risks to using computers and tablets. And, as with most technologies, the benefits far outweigh the risks, and the risk can be even further mitigated with both in class instruction by teachers and at home direction by parents. In addition to learning how to work with information technology, having 1:1 computing allows students to learn how to live with information technology. It is an opportunity to learn how to build healthy habits and self-control, such as tech free or screen free time (dinner table, recharge phones overnight in a different room etc.). Because, for the same reason we do not want to send WPS students out into the modern world without the ability to use technology productively, we also don’t want to send them out into the modern world without any idea how to live with technology in a proper balance. And, ultimately, the best way to teach kids responsibility with technology is by parents setting a good example. As with all other things for kids growing up, adults provide the model.

Sources


Hattie, J. (2013). Visible learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. Routledge.

Huang, Y. M., Liang, T. H., Su, Y. N., & Chen, N. S. (2012). Empowering personalized learning with an interactive e-book learning system for elementary school students. Educational Technology Research and Development, 60(4), 703-722.

Marzano, R. J., Pickering, D., & Pollock, J. E. (2001). Classroom instruction that works: Research based strategies for increasing student achievement. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Means, B., Toyama, Y., Murphy, R., Bakia, M., & Jones, K. (2009). Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning: A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies. US Department of Education.

National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), (2015). Job Outlook, 2016.

Watson, J. (2008). Blended Learning: The Convergence of Online and Face-to-Face Education. Promising Practices in Online Learning. North American Council for Online Learning. Westborough Public Schools Technology Initiative.

Zhang, D., Zhao, J. L., Zhou, L., & Nunamaker Jr, J. F. (2004). Can e-learning replace classroom learning?. Communications of the ACM, 47(5), 75-79.

http://westboroughk12.org/cms/One.aspx?portalId=3382634

Home Filtering: https://www.opendns.com/home-internet-security/

Common Sense Media: https://www.commonsensemedia.org

American Association of Pediatrics: Beyond Turn it Off http://www.aappublications.org/content/36/10/54