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District adds technology specialist

Jason Brown works with Madison Wilson and Meagan Turner at Godwin Elementary. In an effort to keep teachers on the cutting edge, PISD has created a plan to help integrate technology into the classroom. With the addition of a technology specialist for the district, teachers have access to expertise when it comes to new ideas and training in this area.

Jason Brown moved from teaching audio/video production at PHS to this new position for 2017-2018. He joins six other specialists who focus on language arts, math, science and social studies.

“I started going to a new church and met a couple of guys who are instructional tech coaches in their districts,” Brown said. “After speaking with them about their jobs, I knew this was something that PISD needed, especially with technology becoming more integrated in our everyday lives.”

Brown says the uses for technology in education are endless.

“It will help provide more ways to keep students engaged and help with differentiating instruction,” he said. “There are a lot of apps and software that provide immediate feedback on student performance and connect teachers with parents without having to send home lots of papers. We hope it will keep the learning environment fresh for the teachers, but most importantly the students.”

Rene Mullins, assistant superintendent for elementary curriculum, agrees with Brown’s assessment of the benefits of this new position.

“There is an ever-growing need of understanding our students in this age,” she said. “Teachers have to stay on top of how students learn through technology. Every aspect of education has a technology component, and it’s such a vast area that we need someone to show our teachers best practices so they get comfortable using technology in the classroom. Many times this is how they reach the students.”

Brown offers his assistance to teachers in a variety of ways.

“I believe my role is to enhance the teachers’ learning environment through technology,” he said. “I want to be a resource for them to investigate and do research on different apps or software they want to implement into their classroom.”

He gets innovative ideas from a multitude of resources.

“I have been able to make some great connections with instructional coaches in other districts from going to workshops at Region 10 and TCEA (Texas Computer Education Association),” Brown said. “Twitter is also a great resource because it allows me to connect with other tech coaches around the U.S.”

The new technology specialist is busy bouncing between campuses for training and one-on-one meetings.

“Teachers have been very open to the apps and software I've presented and seem to feel better about implementing them into the classroom because they know they have someone who can help them along the way,” Brown said. “At first teachers were a little confused about what I do, but now that we are several weeks into the school year and I've been going to each campus, teachers are getting a clearer picture of my job.”

In addition to meeting with teachers, Brown sends out ideas through a districtwide newsletter. Tech Talk also features teachers in different subject matters and grade levels showing how they are using new technology they just picked up.

For instance, Clark history teacher Adam Lambert is changing the way he assesses students using quizzes offered with the Plickers app, and Debbie Baker, a 3rd-grade teacher at Godwin, is safely communicating and coordinating with parents using Bloomz.

“PHS Spanish I teacher Maribel Alvarado took her students on a virtual reality field trip touring cities in Mexico using the Nearpod app,” Brown said. “The kids loved it and were able to use their own devices because of our BYOD initiative. These are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to our opportunities.”