Facilitator Lauren Morando Rhim asked members of the Students Come First Technology Task Force to respect colleagues' time, attend regularly and arrive promptly to complete their duty to make recommendations to the Legislature by Jan. 31.
"To the degree that it's possible, I would encourage you all to turn off your technology and stay focused on what you're discussing at hand," Rhim told the group at its opening meeting Monday. "It will enable you to contribute in a much more significant and meaningful way. There are breaks built into all the agendas so that you can check in with your office, but please be present during the committee meetings."
But several of the 39 task force members, including the chairman, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna, had trouble heeding Rhim's advice. The panel is charged with helping the Legislature implement Luna's Senate Bill 1184, which shifts state K-12 spending from teacher salaries to technology.
Luna viewed his iPad during much of the 45 minutes he spent in Monday's Online Learning Implementation subcommittee.
He also appeared distracted during a presentation by Cassia High School math teacher Dan Thomander, who demonstrated a "Mobi," a $400 mobile interactive white board manufactured by eInstruction.
Thomander told the full task force that he has a Mobi and his students have clickers, which they use to send him their answers to problems.
Later, Luna said, "I had a question: Maybe you mentioned this, but do your students have one of those devices or is it just you, and the students have a clicker?"
Thomander repeated that he has the Mobi and students have clickers, adding that eInstruction also offers a mini-tablet for students, allowing teachers to check their work, not just see answers. "What they're trying to do is sell one for every student in your classroom."
As Thomander was answering, a mobile device from a task force member seated near Luna sounded off, with the voice of
Johnny Chung Lee, who Thomander had recommended as a guide to building a smartboard on the cheap. "My name is Johnny Lee. I'm going to show you --"
Observed Luna: "I think somebody just logged onto Johnny Lee."
Luna also asked Thomander about applications that can turn smart phones into clickers. Thomander was cool to the idea.
"If they're allowed to use their phones and act like they're doing work, I'll lose them," he replied. "As it is, they already text each other non-stop, and it's a battle to make sure they're keeping their phones put away. I'm constantly catching them with them in their sleeve or down in their lap, hidden."
Another task force member, Jayson Ronk, vice president of the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry, was openly using his iPad on Tuesday. Ronk, chairman of the Platform, Specification, and Procurement subcommittee, was absent Monday, missing Rihm's advice on turning off technology.
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