Awarded for Digital on a Dime!

Monday, Sept. 17 2007
By: Amy Burgin
The Connections Team at Ebenezer Middle School was recently named the recipient of First District Educational Technology Training Center’s (FDETTC) regional award: Spotlight on Technology. The team includes teachers Pat McCall, Tom Brinson, Shawn Baker, Lawanda Allen, Lori Parker, Carlee Fuller, Lisa Watson, and Joe Strickland. Just over two years ago, many teachers at Ebenezer had only one computer in each classroom. Strickland, during a visit to the First District Regional Educational Service Agency (FDRESA), learned about a set of computers that would be put up for sale. After approaching the school administration for permission and team members for financial support, Strickland was able to place a winning bid. During his free time, he cleaned each one of the computers and configured them for use. His goal was to have at least five computers in classrooms that did not have more than one machine. The efforts made by this group allowed students from the entire school – from Band to Family and Consumer Science to Drama – to reap the benefits of technology. One group in particular is the Yearbook Staff, whose members are now creating the entire yearbook online thanks to a donation of Macs from South Effingham High School.

The group conducts research and testing of open source (free) software and finds ways to integrate these programs into school curriculum. With industry software progressively on the rise, it is easy to see the positive impact this team has made for the Board of Education. Their efforts are setting a wonderful example for students by showing that there are many alternative routes to getting technology that works. In addition to open source software evaluation, some of the methods used by this group include fundraising, hardware recycling, and strong sponsor relationships. The team also works to stay on top of emerging technology by visiting conferences and events in Georgia as well as other states.

Perhaps the strongest benefit to come from this team’s efforts is the impact it has on the digital divide. This term is used to refer to the social separation that occurs when low-income families or rural areas cannot fully benefit from computers and Internet connections. Although most associations with this term are on a global level, there are still areas in our country that need technology and guidelines for efficient use. Through the efforts of the Connections team, we can realize that computer access does not have to cost a fortune. The standard set by this group demonstrates that a little footwork goes a long way.

The FDETTC works with school systems to provide technological options for educators as well as students. The Spotlight on Innovation Award is given out on a monthly basis to schools that exhibit exceptional achievement in the incorporation of technology. The members and staff of the Board of Education would like to extend our sincerest congratulations to the entire Connections Team!

To read the announcement on RESA’s website, click here.