Technology is key for Dickson Public Schools. The district views technology as a tool for improving student engagement, making teaching and learning more effective for faculty and students.
The district recently implemented Google for Education to take advantage of features including email, calendar, Google drive, chat, Google Classroom and assignments. Dickson also introduced Clever, a service that makes single sign-on easier for K-12 schools. Clever has made logging on to all of the schools many platforms easier for students and teachers.
“Technology allows the teachers to be able to interact with students individually and as a whole at the same time. These technologies have made it easier to engage students in learning more efficiently,” said Bill Jones, technology director.
Dickson Public Schools serves students in Pre-K through 12th grade. The school is located on State Highway 199 in Ardmore, Oklahoma. The district serves approximately 1,400 students across four buildings in a rural area of Oklahoma with a population below 5,000. The district employs over 80 certified faculty members and 45 non-certified staff, plus administration.
Dickson Public Schools Mission
Dickson’s faculty and staff strive to teach students to have GRIT – goals, resiliency, integrity and tenacity. They accomplish this by focusing on the four pillars of the child: social, emotional, physical and academic well-being.
The school’s mission statement commits faculty and staff to providing:
- A safe environment
- Quality character education
- Modern, rigorous instructional practices
- Research-based and appropriate curriculum
- Ongoing and thorough communication
All of these goals require technology and connectivity. Jones says the main challenge with implementing technologies to meet the school’s goals is training and engaging teachers in new technologies.
“Most teachers have embraced new technologies, but getting some to use a technology can be a challenge, because it is ‘new’ and ‘the old way worked just fine.’ Getting to know teachers and understanding the hesitation of embracing these new technologies helps us eliminate these challenges,” Jones said.
Future Technology Plans
Jones has plans to implement additional technologies in the near future. Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is on his list to provide a balance of security and convenience for the district. His wish list also includes better internal network monitoring and 1-to-1 NAT or Network Address Translation, which will provide better control of interaction between private services and the internet. All of this is important for a secure, reliable network for a K-12 school.
OneNet’s connectivity also plays an important role. The school’s bandwidth has grown from 500Mb in 2015 to 1G in 2016 then to 2G in 2021. The school also utilizes OneNet’s managed router service and Zoom discounts. In addition, Dickson has a spilt local loop through OneNet, which gives the school two paths for internet traffic to travel. Jones says that connection drops due to physical media issues or a particular fiber happen, but the split local loop provides the redundancy the school needs to ensure uptime availability.
“Over the past two years of internet service with OneNet, Dickson Public Schools has experienced an exceptional uptime. This allows us to provide the best instruction possible for our students and staff,” Jones said. “Just the ability to be consistently up has allowed the teachers and students to engage in learning activities without interruptions.”
Benefits of Quality Connectivity
“Dependability on a network has helped focus my energies elsewhere on my daily duties. The dependability is so good that sometimes I forget about that aspect on my job,” he said.
Jones also reports that the quality of OneNet’s connectivity extends to the OneNet team as well.
“The experience I have had with OneNet staff has been very positive. Not only are the network gurus experienced and knowledgeable, but they also have great customer service skills. Not only are the tech people great, but the administration, sales, accounting staff, etc. have been very professional and knowledgeable in providing guidance and help,” he said.
“OneNet is K-12’s partner in education and learning initiatives,” said Brian Burkhart, OneNet chief technology officer. “Our mission is to support districts like Dickson in improving connectivity so teachers and staff can better engage and serve students.”
We asked Jones why quality internet connectivity is vital for rural schools like Dickson.
He responded, “Simply it gives rural schools the same leg up as schools in the bigger cities where there is usually better funding, access to internet, and resources.”