Shelby County school employees receive summer technology training

Keeping up-to-date with current technology is becoming increasingly important in school systems. The Shelby County Board of Education is offering technology training during the summer to better meet the technological needs of students and teachers alike.

“Most people assume kids are good at everything technology-related,” said Lauren Wooley, the technology program area specialist for Shelby County Schools. “Sometimes they’re great at downloading music, but when it comes to making a spreadsheet or developing a formula, they’re not so good.”

To ensure students graduate with a high level of technology training, Wooley said it’s vital for teachers to understand how to use today’s technology as well.

Shelby County Schools are making huge strides this year in updating their teaching styles to reflect current technological trends.

One major change this year is the switch from the 2003 version of Microsoft Office to the 2007 version. Wooley said at least one teacher per community will receive a stipend to learn the new programs and teach them to other teachers.

Additional changes include developing a listserv system for all administrators and encouraging teachers to post blogs on the schools’ blog server.

Wooley said she’s most excited about the federal grant the schools received to technologically update their classrooms.

“Five teachers from Montevallo Elementary and High schools got laptops, digital whiteboards and digital cameras for their classrooms,” Wooley said. “The teachers will spend 12 days this summer working on and developing technology-rich projects using whichever programs they want.”

After the teachers have completed their training, 30 seventh, eight and ninth-graders will come for four half days so the teachers will have an opportunity to practice teaching the technology. The students will give feedback and advice to help the teachers give the best instruction possible during the school year.

Wooley said middle schoolers in Shelby County are often at the greatest disadvantage when it comes to computer skills.

“When they choose a band or choir elective, those kids never take a computer class the whole time they’re there,” Wooley said.

Wooley said the system is putting a greater focus on middle school from now on.

When compared with schools from the rest of the country, Wooley said she thinks Shelby County Schools are average in their use of technology.

“That’s not anywhere near where we need to be,” she said. “It needs to be every child that gets exposed.”