Technology in Education Discussed at Mount Greylock

By Stephen DravisWilliamstown Correspondent
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Richard Scullin, instructional technology specialist at Mount Greylock Regional, explained how the school is using cloud resources.

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Richard Scullin has been keeping his head in the clouds — and finding some practical solutions for Mount Greylock Regional High School.

Scullin is the junior-senior high school's instructional technology specialist, and last week, he explained to the School Committee how cloud-based computing is being used at Mount Greylock.

Scullin said he and the school's technology director, Rob Wnuk, developed a plan to give each student at the school a unified email address, a work space with tools for creating presentations and up to 30 gigabytes of cloud-based storage.

And the beauty of cloud-based workspace is that the students can access their work any time from anywhere that they have an Internet connection.

"It's not open to advertising, so the kids won't be getting ads, and it's not open to searches," Scullin told the committee. "You can't find [a student's] work. It's behind our server."

Safeguarding student privacy was a concern raised by the committee during Scullin's presentation at its monthly meeting.

"What's free for Google?" asked committee member David Backus. "We want to be making sure the educational community isn't creating an avenue ... for information that gets commoditized later."

Scullin said the school's technology committee had the same thought.

"That's something I'm concerned with, definitely," he said. "And so are the other technical committee members and faculty members. I don't think any of us are naive.

"I've been looking at the Pittsfield district and other districts nationwide [that have employed cloud technology]. ... That concern is still there."

Another concern: making sure the students don't abuse the technology.

"Central to my work here is digital citizenship," Scullin said.

"With each [technological] rollout, I work with teachers and also the students to review the acceptable use policy. ... The AUP arose from work of the technology committee and feedback from the teachers and students. A lot of the ideas are coming from the student body. It's not all being imposed on them."

Their first year at the school, middle-schoolers now are taught a unit on digital citizenship, and that lesson becomes an interdisciplinary exercise in which the students do autobiographical writing in the classroom of English teacher Liza Barrett, Scullin said.

"They investigate what selfhood is in multiple contexts," he said. "Not many of them identify themselves in the digital sphere."

"I think it's our role as administrators and governing bodies to make sure we develop these citizens," Mount Greylock Superintendent Rose Ellis said.

And Scullin also has taken the lead in training teachers who can can keep up with the technology that students are using in and out of the classroom.

To that end, he has done individual and group professional development sessions with faculty members "to get their feet wet with all the resources available on the cloud."

Tags: cloud computing,   information technology,   

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