MPIA Press Conference BOE Board of Education Dr. Martirano July 14, 2017

Moving Forward in Ensuring Transparency

Every day I am humbled by the incredible privilege and responsibility of educating the children of Howard County. I take to heart that families must have faith in the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) for us to effectively partner together in preparing the next generation for the future. Our recent launch of the online tracking system for Maryland Public Information Act (MPIA) requests represents an important step forward in ensuring transparency and ultimately building trust with the community.

As of this month, the new MPIA tracking system is fully online at mpia.hcpss.org. Once a member of the public submits a request online, they can follow the request status in real-time as HCPSS prepares its response. Via the tracking system, requests and responsive documents for completed MPIA submissions will be available for public inspection.

We understand that the MPIA is one of the most valuable tools available to our community for obtaining public records and documents. HCPSS is committed to providing the fullest possible access allowable by law to all records, documents and information relating to school system decisions and operations through its MPIA responses.

The new online system is a win-win for our community and our system. This site gives our stakeholders much easier access to the information they seek, while adding efficiency to school system operations.

We believe HCPSS is the first school system in the region to introduce an online MPIA presence. I am confident we are setting a new standard that other school systems throughout the region and nation will seek to emulate.

We welcome members of the public to use this tool to gain a better understanding of our operations and move forward with us as a cohesive community dedicated to our children’s education.

Teacher and student looking at iPad

Why BYOD Is Essential in the 21st Century Classroom

Picture of Collin SullivanCollin Sullivan is a Long Reach High School Senior and presents regularly at BYOD and Educational Technology Gatherings hosted by the HCPSS Office of Instructional Technology.  Collin was a strong student voice during the BYOD pilot program and continues to advocate for continued use of technology in the classroom.

Last school year, the HCPSS launched an initiative that was modeled after a new wave of technology policies incorporated by businesses and school systems across the nation. HCPSS piloted the BYOD Program, or “Bring Your Own Device.” Technology is changing faster than school systems can adapt. Instead of purchasing new pieces of technology every year, students and staff can use their personal devices for educational purposes to significantly improve the learning, or teaching, experience. A “device” includes laptops, tablets, and if the teacher deems appropriate, even a smartphone.

This flagship program has garnered much praise, but with a fair amount of backlash. Many members of the community feel that technology will cause a distraction to the education environment. I believe the contrary. Technology is an invaluable tool for education. Now, students are bringing full powered mini-computers to school every day, and it fits in their pockets.

The BYOD program has two major goals for students to learn:

1. Technology is a resource
Many people take their phones, tablets, iPods, computers, and even the Internet for granted. All of these can be used in a positive way to make learning easier and more engaging. With HCPSS campuses WiFi-Ready, it is important that students can tap into the potential of the Internet and its various resources of information in order to broaden their learning experience.

2. Technology responsibility
When students graduate and enter the workforce, there will not be someone monitoring everything they do on their phones, nor if they are checking Twitter constantly. These are temptations for everyone, but it is important that we all form habits that avoid those temptations. With the BYOD program, students learn appropriate usage of their smartphones while at school which will form healthy habits for students when they enter the workforce.

These are two groundbreaking points that every 21st century employee will have to understand thoroughly. Employers will expect that their workers know how to use technology and know how to use it appropriately. This is not a lesson that can simply be taught, but a lesson best taught by practice.