Tech session at USD trains school officials

Tech session at USD trains school officials Nearly 90 superintendents and principals from South Dakota took part in an academy at The University of South Dakota aimed at giving them the information on technology needed to run a school or school district.

The Technology for Teaching and Learning Academy for School Administrators (TTLSA) held its first session in June. The second session ran from July 23 through Aug. 2. Administrators from across the state participated in classes, discussions, and listened to lectures on the latest technology uses in education at sessions held at USD and Vermillion High School.

The TTLSA program is funded as part of the Gates Foundation Grant awarded to the South Dakota Office of Technology. With the grant money, the Office of Technology has created a series of technology programs similar to the TTLSA program for educators in the state.

Judy Vondruska, co-director of the Gates Foundation Grant at the South Dakota Office of Technology, said the state is equipped with the necessary facilities for administrators; they just need the opportunity to learn how to use them.

"We are one of the only states in the country that is completely wired, so all our schools have access to the Internet. What this does is enhance the education experience in our schools and our administrators need to understand how it works and what its place is in the overall educational picture," she said.

In addition to computer and software classes, administrators also used handheld computers. Administrators learned how to incorporate the handheld technology into classes and into their own work lifestyle.

Michael Hoadley, director of the USD program, said the goal of the program is to improve the education opportunities of students through the administrators.

"The bottom line is that the students have to benefit, but it does start with the leadership of the administration. This academy is a good opportunity for them to get hands-on experience, to talk to each other about what they're doing, and to hear keynote sessions from people across the state about what's going on. Hopefully, when they leave they have a little better perspective," he said.

Although most schools have people in charge of technology, Hoadley said administrators have to be able to understand the technical language.

"They have technology directors, teachers and even students that know a lot about technology, but it's important from the leadership standpoint that they have the big picture and see how the pieces fit together. I think a lot of it is they want to be informed so they can talk with the technology director or network administrator in the same language. They don't have to be a technology guru, but they do need to understand how the technology works," he said.

Both Ron Flynn, Wakonda School District, and Doug Tuetken, Vermillion School District, attended the sessions.

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