A technology audit presented by Questeq to the Ellwood City Area School Board at its meeting on Jan. 15, found the District’s technology outdated and inconsistent.
Questeq CEO Jeffrey Main reported that the District’s technology policy is reactive and lacks consistency. Over half of the District’s 2200 devices are over five years old. Some computers still run Windows XP, an outdated operating system Microsoft ended support for in 2009. Erin Parkison, the high school’s librarian, reported that some of the computers are older than the students.
However, Questeq reported that Ellwood City is not unique. The company does audits across the state and finds similar conditions in most school districts: outdated computers, technology treated as secondary and lack of an overall financial plan for technology.
Additionally, the audit found the school’s network infrastructure is insufficient to support many students online. The email program is also outdated and unable to meet demands.
Questeq reported that the district’s IT staff is insufficiently small with only two employees, creating a 1:1100 ratio of staff to devices. However, Questeq did congratulate the staff for a remarkable job with operating the systems.
Main also interviewed faculty and students to get personal input on the school’s technological needs. He found that the teachers and staff are ready for a stronger incorporation of technology as a teaching partner.
Parkison was ready for a revision to the library’s technology and function. Questeq believes that the future of libraries is in teaching students how to acquire knowledge, not simply storing knowledge for access.
Although most students expressed similar sentiment for increased use of technology in learning, the elementary students that were interviewed were the most enthusiastic, with Questeq warning the Board that the high school’s technology will be unable to meet future student’s requirements.
“We need more consistency with our technology, each class has something different – some use Apple, some use Google and others use Windows,” one student said in a statement Maine described as definitive of the elementary sentiment.
Questeq recommended that the District commit to one computer platform. The company also recommended developing a unified vision for the function of technology, an increase in IT staff , and an update for the Internet infrastructure.
Finally, Main suggested a five-year refresh cycle to consistently replace outdated technology. A high estimate for such a plan’s budget was $429,000 a year.