Hickory Public Schools plans major technology upgrade for all classrooms

While visiting Hickory Public Schools classrooms last school year, Principal Bryan Taylor observed that technology was outdated and inconsistent across the district.

On Monday, Taylor told the Hickory City School Board that he sees an opportunity for the district’s Elementary and Secondary Emergency Relief (ESSER) fund to equip classrooms with updated technology. He brought in Jordan Caldwell, Instructional Technologist, and Jeff Tice, Director of Technology, for a demonstration showing the capabilities of the 2021 Promethean Platinum interactive panels.

The difference between an interactive panel and a SMART board is that the SMART board must be plugged into a PC or other device. An interactive panel is a device in itself, although it can also be plugged into a device. Caldwell described it as “a big Android tablet.”

Three notable features are Promethean’s built-in teaching elements, built-in applications and its screen-sharing capabilities.

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Caldwell said the instructional element allows teachers to easily present visual guides and references to students. He cites an example where an instructor teaching a chemistry class can bring up the periodic table of elements with just a few taps on the screen.

Built-in apps like the Chrome browser allow users to open a browser on the interactive panel itself rather than on their personal device, Caldwell said.

Board member Ittiely Carson, who participated virtually, asked students if they could share their screens on Promethean. Caldwell said they can, and have protections in place to prevent students from sharing inappropriate content.

Caldwell said students were placed in a digital waiting room before sharing their screens. Teachers can then freeze the screen in the waiting room and review the content on their device before presenting it to the class.

Board member Mike Heard, who also participated in the virtual meeting, asked if all classrooms would receive an interactive panel.

Taylor confirmed that every classroom in K-12 will be equipped with an interactive panel.

“One of the things we didn’t mention was that it was a way for us to address equity in our region,” Taylor said. “It’s not going to be something that some schools have and others don’t. It’s not going to be something that some students are exposed to and others aren’t. It’s going to be consistent in every grade level across all of our schools.”

A timeline has yet to be set, as the region is still working on branding and pricing. Taylor said he hopes to order the panels by Christmas.

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