iSchool Campus, a educational-support organization based in Park City, is growing in Utah. The company creates a network and one-to-one technology program in classrooms, offering support and expertise with its designated iSchools. From installation to teacher support, the program aims to put technology in the hands of students.
The company currently operates in nine states, including Utah charter and private schools and neighboring states such as Nevada and Colorado, and is even in the process to seek out international markets such as China. Following a state contract, the company is starting to grow its roots in Utah's public schools, taking the iSchool Campus program into the Gunnison Valley Elementary School in San Pete County, Dixon Middle School in Provo and North Sevier High School in Sevier County.
"The state wanted a mix of schools in the program," said David Nisson, the Chief Operating Officer of iSchool Campus. "Everyone had to apply and 41 schools put in for the program. The state looked at the geographic location, the make-up of the student body and then they looked at the applications in their decision."
"We're deploying in three schools for now and will those schools will be monitored by a third party," Nisson said. "As that progresses, if the state feels like what we do is helpful, then the program can be expanded the year after."
In its second year as a company, iSchool Campus has aligned itself with Apple Inc. to provide iPads, high-definition televisions and Apple TV in every classroom.
"We are trying to prepare to expand rapidly if we need to," Nisson said. "We may be in three schools this year, but next year, that number might be 100 schools."
Nisson said the program is an end-to-end technology solution that incorporates networking, labs and the one-to-one iPad deployment that gives every student a device. To implement the program, iSchool Campus estimates that a three-year program will cost schools $600 per student per year.
"Because we installed and designed the system, we understand it," Nisson said. "We come in and teach teachers how to use it. A lot of schools, the way they think about technology in the classroom is we need to teach our students how to use computers.
"We don't talk about that at all. We teach the teachers how to use it. the time the system is up and running, teachers know everything they need to about using an iPad."
That means if a student is struggling to download an app, the teacher will be first in line to offer technical support. And getting teachers behind the technology will mean a greater impact on the classroom, from using television screens and iPads as the new and improved chalkboard to using educational apps to target students who need more hands-on learning.
"Teachers can become so much more efficient in what they do," Nisson said. "They can manage a classroom better."
Even installing speakers for teachers to use is incorporated into classrooms. The company has also developed a number of classroom management applications such as iQuiz, an app that allows a teacher to design a quiz in minutes, push the quiz out to students and monitor answers as students are taking it.
And initial testing results are positive, Nisson said, with scores rising as the program is implemented.
For the past two years, the company has donated its classroom space to a Holy Cross Ministries preschool program in the summer. iSchool Campus hopes to do more in the community in coming years and has talked with the charter and private schools in the area. Implementation in the Park City School District is unlikely as schools fully implement the one-to-one laptop program this year, but Nisson said going into other school districts, charter schools and private schools are discussions that are in the works.
"There's the core school district and then there are programs outside of that core curriculum that we hope we have an opportunity to contribute to," Nisson said. "After school, adult education, anywhere we can contribute."