ISHPEMING - New computers have arrived in NICE district schools after voters approved .47 mills in May to allow the district to purchase new school buses and technology upgrades.
The technology purchases are now installed.
"Rural is a blessing, but it can also be a challenge," said Superintendent Michael Haynes. "We think technology is the way to give us access to a rich cadre of resources not normally available."
From new laptops for every teacher to digital projectors installed in the classrooms, the NICE Community Schools are making the most of a May bond election that has allowed the district to expand its technology use. Here, teachers get a training session in the new Aspen Ridge Elementary and Middle School iMac computer lab. (NICE Community Schools photo)
A district bond issue is expected to generate just under $1 million, about half of which will go toward the new technology.
Purchases include a new laptop or desktop computer for each teacher, new computers in the district's computer labs, a new iMac lab at the Aspen Ridge School building, digital projectors in each middle and high school classroom and interactive white board technologies.
"Most of the teachers requested a laptop because they want to be mobile," Haynes said. Each of the teacher computers is equipped with a Web cam so that options like Skype - a free Internet video phone service - can be used to virtually bring guest speakers into the classrooms.
Besides making it easier for teachers to locate and use the equipment, digital projectors installed in each of the middle and high school classrooms will also allow students to view presentations, videos and other resources as part of their regular lessons.
The interactive white board technology also makes use of the projectors, allowing the computer's desktop to be projected onto the board. Once the image is projected, the teacher or presenter can then make notes or manipulate the desktop image directly on the board and save changes for future classes.
"You can project a computer image onto a white board and the board itself becomes a large interactive screen," Haynes said.
For Aspen Ridge Elementary and Middle School students, a new iMac computer lab has also been set up.
"We had more of a technology need than we had labs available," Haynes said.
The new iMacs can be used with either Mac or Microsoft operating systems, giving students the opportunity to use both.
Prior to the start of classes last week, NICE teachers were given an introductory training to begin using all the new hardware and further training sessions will be scheduled throughout the year.