Oconee County students may enjoy wireless Internet on school campuses soon, as part of a technological upgrade being considered by the Oconee County Board of Education.
Board members are considering a technology upgrade proposal which includes campus-wide wireless, updated websites, and voice-mail systems for each school. The wireless network, if approved, would allow students and faculty members to use their own devices in the classroom.
Oconee County Schools Technology Director Mike Hale presented the upgrade plan during the Board of Education's Monday night work session.
"A lot of the school systems across the state have wireless," Hale said. "I surveyed the systems around us and most systems have wireless throughout their buildings. We do not. We only have hotspots."
Hale said the upgrades would allow teachers to make better use of already existing learning tools, such as online testing and online group collaboration through the use of Google Applications.
"We have growing multimedia needs as far as people wanting to do more picture and video projects," Hale said. "We have teachers with access to stuff, but we need to increase student access to technology."
If the upgrade is approved, teachers, faculty and students would be able to access the wireless on any of Oconee's school campuses by using their school ID. Hale said that the plan did not allow for parents to access the network at the present time.
"Right now the idea of letting parents have access so they can get some work done while they’re waiting – what you can do and can’t do on a government network is tricky, so at this time we probably won’t have that," he said. "The equipment can allow whatever we want to configure at whatever level we want to configure it. But right now we’re focused on getting our students and teachers on it."
The plan would include for four to five years of technical support and training and would allow school officials to operate for at least one year without outside technical support.
"There probably won't be any patches or anything, and we could go for some time without support and buy spare equipment to put it in," Hale said. "We'd be looking forward to the point where in seven years we would replace the whole thing again."
Board members will vote on the latest recommendations during the upcoming session to be held June 11.