The District of Columbia is targeting most of its educational technology efforts toward ensuring that “every learning space is connected to the Internet,” says Stanley D. Johnson, the school district’s director of instructional technology.
Currently, all of Washington’s public high schools and most of its middle schools have Internet access, and Johnson estimates that about 30 percent of its elementary schools are online.
According to data from Shelton, Conn.-based Market Data Retrieval for the 2003-04 school year, the District of Columbia ranked lower than all states except Massachusetts for the percent of schools with at least one Internet-connected computer in each classroom.
The school district uses federal E-rate and local funding to improve Internet access in schools, and it has fully wired all newly constructed schools. But Johnson says that the district has faced significant challenges in overcoming facilities and funding problems.
Funding for educational technology in the district has stayed relatively stable in recent years, so it has turned to other sources to maintain such programs. Johnson has worked with the district’s professional-development division, for instance, to share the costs of technology-related resources for new teachers.
In fact, the school system has made a strong effort to combine professional development and the distribution of technology resources. Teachers must complete a professional-development program on how to use technology tools and curriculum materials before the district will provide the new technology resources to the teachers’ classrooms.
The educational technology budget for the 76,000-student district is $3.1 million for the 2004-05 school year, about the same as the previous year. This includes funds from federal and local sources.