School Superintendent Scott Kuffel isn’t surprised at the accomplishments of James Roodhouse, district technologist.

School Superintendent Scott Kuffel isn’t surprised at the accomplishments of James Roodhouse, district technologist.

Recently, the district received a fourth-place award in a national survey of the use of digital technology.  Roodhouse was presented the award at a conference held in the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, where he also was able to attend presentations on innovative technology.

“James has been a wonderful addition to our district,” Kuffel said.  “James is innovative, technically proficient and an excellent communicator.  His ability to analyze both small-scale issues and big-picture planning has been immeasurably helpful to the District.”

The Geneseo School District was rated fourth in the medium category — schools across the nation with enrollments of 2,501 to 15,000 students. There are about 2,750 students in the Geneseo district.

The annual Digital School Districts Survey was conducted by e.Republic’s Center for Digital Education, the National School Boards Association and Converge Online magazine.

The purpose of the survey is to recognize school districts and school boards across the nation whose use of digital technology in interfacing with students, parents and community, district governing, and bettering of operations proved exceptional.

While at the conference, Roodhouse attended two presentations.

“One was on,” he said.  “Out of all the Web -ased resources presented at the conference, I am most impressed with the Curriki project.  Curriki is about openly shared source for lesson plans and curriculum K-12. The project has been around since 2004, features its own open source framework based on Java and has a sizeable database of lesson plans and even full year curriculums with over 200,000 members worldwide.”

Roodhouse said the project originally was funded by Sun Microsystems, “which is a company that has a good track record of bringing new technology to the market,” he said.  “The entire project is free and open source — educators are free to pick and choose among its content, design own lessons, or even download entire textbooks.”

The other presentation that impressed Roodhouse was on neurosky technology, which he said is in Korea, but not yet available in the United States for education based software.

 “This technology is still somewhat new and undefined but looks like it may have a bright future. Neurosky simply makes a headset that measures EKG brainwaves allowing you to control your computer, play games, and interface with your computer with your mind.”

He said the company is working with Nintendo and the toy company “Uncle Milton” and a variety of early model products are already available.

“This technology almost looks like science fiction, but is real,” Roodhouse said   “You can control your computer with your mind as it were a mouse and keyboard.

“At the conference, NeuroSky demonstrated some of the new educational software that uses this mindset.  In Korea pilot schools are using this trainer with specialized software that monitors student attentions levels, teaches reading and language skills, and custom tailors lessons based
on a student’s ability to focus.”

Kuffel said he believes the school district “works hard to provide both appropriate quantity of technology, but also we establish high quality in how we use technology.  Our students are now ‘digital natives’ and it is a challenge for adults, who are basically ‘digital immigrants’ to apply our skills and knowledge and force students to fit our thinking.

“Students think and learn differently than we did and it is vitally important that we continue to find ways to engage students in successful ways, which may not always be with the techniques used when we were students,” he said.

As the Geneseo School District continues to move forward in “changing times,” Kuffel said, “The future for our district isn't just about technology, but about how our schools look and feel to our students.  Technology will become more and more transparent. Gone are the days when a computer lab, or an interactive whiteboard are ‘big deals.’  We have to move into an era where handheld computing devices are just as acceptable, understood and used as teaching and learning tools as textbooks, calculators, spiral and 3-ring notebooks have been for the past decades.”  

He said the capacity for teaching and learning that is held inside most mobile phones today far surpasses what most classrooms possessed 10 years ago.  

“This is not meant to frighten people that all human communication need be lost, just that the way we interact with each other and the way we build relationships between students and teachers today is vastly different than it was a generation ago and if we fail to recognize that and change the way we do business, both students and adults will grow increasingly frustrated.

“James continues to lead us in implementing successful applications in support of 21st century education,” he said.

Roodhouse credits Kuffel for the success of the technology program in the Geneseo School District.

“Scott Kuffel filled out the technology survey and has done an excellent job of setting clear technology goals for District 228,” he said. “The district has worked hard to upgrade the existing infrastructure and labs so that they work efficiently and reliably.  With this achieved, teachers are now comfortable suing the labs and incorporating computers into their lesson delivery.”

Roodhouse said when he arrived as a staff member of the Geneseo School District, “I could see from the backend side of things that at any given any moment there were between 30-120 students simultaneously logged in and actively using computers.  This is my third year in the district and now at any given moment this number has risen and is between 120 and 340 students actively using computers at any given moment.”

He said that is “good news,” and was one of his goals, to maximize the actual student usage of computers by increasing computer reliability and speed.

“I have configured a more efficient login system that is capable of handling large numbers of network users,” he said.  I also have helped to develop an efficient network based way of re-imaging all computers making it easy to upgrade and support a large number of machines.”

Roodhouse added, “It’s not just me.  The school board and administration have been outstanding in setting technology as a priority and working to implement changes quickly.  Scott Kuffel has an excellent grasp on computer technology and education technology and has set clear technology goals for the district.”

He said the district Web page is constantly changing and Roodhouse also credits all the staff involved in the IT support team which includes Jackie Bopp, Bill Eaker, Rayanne Burrack and Mary Martin.

“Many teachers also have  helped push the technology envelop forward. The list could go on and on,” he said.