Mineola School Superintendent Dr. Michael Nagler gave a glimpse into the future at a recent retreat for the : a mobile application named “Blackboard” in which teachers can “extend” their days with students.
“What’s exciting about it is there’s tons of opportunities and possibilities,” Dr. Nagler said during the August 17 retreat at the . “I think it works very well with what we’re trying to do with the one-to-one initiative.”
Using the application on a mobile device, such as an iPad, students can spend more time with their teachers, review coursework, access documents, notes and get extra help outside the classroom or normal school hours.
Originally the district utilized ConnectEd but found Blackboard Mobile at one-quarter of the price. The application is available across a variety of platforms, including Apple, Android and Blackberry. A license for 500 users would be purchased for the mobile suite and a mix of students, teachers and administrators could download the app, which can be used anywhere in the district.
“I think some AP teachers are going to jump on this because they can extend their day,” the superintendent said.
Due to the district’s , fifth grade teachers would be the first ones trained followed by some administrators who would then turnkey the training to other teachers. Only six teachers reportedly have not had the chance to use iPads but received training over the last days of summer.
“Its like everything else; you’ve got to start somewhere,” Dr. Nagler said. “My vision is to move this into the high school... to eventually to get the to utilize phones; for the kids and teachers to use the phone as the device.”
The district is also utilizing Espark in two special ed inclusion classes in the where individual apps are created for children by taking their NWEA score, evaluating their strengths and weaknesses and creating an app to reinforce needed skills for that student.
The Blackboard application also features the potential to log on and form a class using the cameras in the mobile devices, however the district is not purchasing this feature yet because of its higher expense.
The 12 month contract with Blackboard comes at a cost of $39,000, which will be taken from savings from Microsoft licensing from the district’s software budget line. Approximately $7,000 of the amount is in training for the new software. Dr. Nagler reported that the district is receiving a good deal on the software since the company has reportedly cut a number of their prices because they are “very eager” to get into Nassau County. Full price for the service is reportedly about $60,000. Dr. Nagler said that he could prepare for rate increases on Blackboard’s hosting of the service by buying servers for the district in the multi-year plan.
The district is also investigating whether it can use textbook money to purchase electronic versions of textbooks used in the various courses.