Upper Dauphin students redesign schools website

2016 Sentinel Article

By Duane Good

EDITOR

LOYALTON •

A proposed upgrade of the Upper Dauphin Area School District’s official website drew kudos for its creators – all of them current or former high-school students.  Board members and administrators applauded the effort of Isaac Brown, Cameron Crum and Tyler Whitmer following a pres^ entation at a recent board meeting.  Brown, a rising senior, along with Crum and Whitmer – both of whom graduated June 1 – were students in Todd Rupp’s computer technology class.  “The students wanted to redesign the site to make it more functional,” said Rupp.  Brown said all tabs on the sites front page were rearranged to be in alphabetical order; all subtopics in each tab also were rearranged the same way.  A “click and search” feature at the top of the front page was added as well, Brown explained.  “Our main goal was ease of access,” he said. “We also wanted to make the site more mobile-friendly, since our research showed that 50 percent of people who access the site also have cellphones.”  Other features not previously on the site were added for the benefit of different audience groups (i.e. parents, teachers, etc.) Access to photo galleries and other parts of the existing site also was streamlined, according to Brown.  Aesthetically, the site’s front page would sport a new banner featuring “dueling” Trojans (the district’s sports mascot) and a modified crest, the design of which was supplied by high-school Principal Dermot Garrett.  Both the students and their teacher are very pleased with how the upgrades turned out.  “I was impressed with what they did. The site is a lot more user-friendly,” said Rupp, He said the classroom sessions where the trio worked together were “like seeing a small business being run.” “Very impressive” and “Excellent job” were among the other comments given to Brown and Rupp during the meeting.  Official launch of the website is pending more refinements as well as orienting staff to new features.

I am currently involved in the Upper Dauphin Area Lifelong Learners Initiative committee.  The overall goal of this project is to better integrate technology into the learning process.

 

PROJECT BACKGROUND

The use of technology in the classroom is nothing new. Computers have been used by students for years for everything from simple processes such as word processing to advanced functions such as video production. However, with the advent of even greater technological innovation comes an opportunity to enhance the learning for our students in ways that were never before thought possible. Technology is no longer just a ‘tool’ for the classroom. It can now be fully embedded in the learning environment and used to provide greater collaboration, knowledge acquisition, differentiated learning, learning measurement and student engagement. The current technology capabilities would allow our students to become 21st century learners.

 

PROBLEM DESCRIPTION

The Upper Dauphin Area School District has often been on the forefront of technology in education. However recent advances in technology have occurred faster than the School District has been able to implement them on a large-scale basis. Consequently, the students have not been provided with as robust of an education as would have been possible had the School District provided access to the latest technological advances in a timelier manner. This learning and education gap puts our students at a disadvantage as they enter post-secondary education, the workforce and the military. The enhanced learning environment that we will refer to as part of this project looks to not only utilize the technology in the classroom, but to embed the technology within and across curricula for all content areas. Having access to such an environment at the high school level will help our students function at an advanced level as they progress to their chosen careers and professions.

 

BENEFITS

As schools have moved in the direction of a one-to-one learning concept, they have been transformed from traditional classrooms filled with lecture and memorization to modern classrooms filled with enhanced interaction and far reaching creativity. It is our hope to transform the learning environment for Upper Dauphin Area’s students in a direction that will prepare them to become lifelong learners and creative problem solvers. Our desire is to not just produce productive citizens, but citizens that have the knowledge and background to reach their complete potential in multiple areas of their lives.

 

GOAL

In general, the primary goal of the project is to implement the technology, professional education and technological support necessary to provide a 21st century learning experience for the School District’s students in the most cost effective manner.