Archive for Thursday, February 22, 2007

Kobza promotes district’s tech savvy

February 22, 2007

In Eudora USD 491 Superintendent Marty Kobza's eyes, a computer at Eudora High School is more than a machine. A DVD player at Nottingham Elementary School does more than play a disc.

Each piece of technology is part of the student's overall educational experience, he said.

Kobza took the opportunity to share the point and the district's technological achievements with a national school board panel from Feb. 7 to 9.

He was one of eight representatives from across the country to be invited as an adviser to the National School Board Association. As part of his role, he visited the NSBA headquarters in Alexandria, Va., to meet with the other advisers. He will also attend the technology and learning conference next fall.

During the weekend meeting, the advisory team tackled use of technology in the classroom, equity and access, funding for new and existing technology and prepared discussion topics for the conference next fall.

"It was great. It was one of the most valuable learning experiences I've been involved with," Kobza said. "It was wonderful."

Among those present at the conference: a technology director from a large district in South Carolina, a principal from a technical charter school in Philadelphia, Pa., a technology director from Fairfax County, Va., and a school board member from Indianapolis, Ind.

Kobza's experience fit within the advisory board in different ways, he said. He represented the viewpoint of a superintendent, a Midwestern mindset and the view from a small district.

"We found we had a lot of the same challenges and a lot of the same issues," Kobza said.

The biggest focus of discussion centered on having technology play an active role in education rather than just being present for its own sake, Kobza said.

In addition to planning a larger convention next fall, the weekend meeting gave advisors the opportunity to compare notes.

Some programs on the East Coast particularly opened his eyes, Kobza said.

In particular, Kobza found East Coast districts provided more programs to supply individual students with their own laptop computer.

"It's very, very prevalent," Kobza said. "It seems to be part of the everyday process."

It would be a matter of years before a similar program could be initiated in Eudora, he said.

The role technology plays in the Eudora district surprised some during the meeting, Kobza said.

In particular, Kobza stressed the way the district focuses collaborative effort among its teachers.

Kobza also presented the overall access to technology as one of the district's strengths, he said.

"Students can access papers or anything they need from home, via the Web and our servers," Kobza said.

In general, Kobza told the advisory group that teachers within the district use technology like computer labs primarily as tools and not destinations.

At the end of the trip, Kobza left confident with how the district has used its technology.

"If anything, I walked away from there feeling good with our position and the plans we're putting together," Kobza said.

The National School Board Association provided all travel fees and accommodations for Kobza's trip.

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