205 N Race St
Urbana, IL 61801
Urbana School District 116 has an early childhood school, six neighborhood elementary schools, a middle school, a high school, and one administrative services center.
Technology in the District History
The 1990s. In 1990, ICT was not standard in the administration. The assistant superintendent had brought his own IBM XT machine to work. It sat on the desk and had no connectivity or printer. The PC was primarily used for grades and simple word processing. However, technology use ballooned in the next few years. By as early as 1994, teachers were writing web-based lesson plans and taking students to the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to see the Web. Also in 1994, a group of interdisciplinary teachers applied for and received an NSF grant though the University of Illinois that funded the four or five of them getting e-mail at the middle school. Within two years of the grant, the district had created two positions for technology staff. One was a network specialist and the other held a director position (Owen, 2011). By 1996 the entire district had e-mail hosted by the University of Illinois and by 1999 the high school had two computer labs (Owen & Sly, 2011).
2000–2008. District-wide, technology use skyrocketed from 1996 to 2000. During this time, the rather progressive USD 116 Board of Education invested time and energy in fundraising and applying to grants for purchasing and providing funds for technology. From about 2000 to 2007, however, the technology funding dried up, because the board of education had already bought everyone computers and therefore did not see the need to maintain a budget for technology. As a result, as recently as 2009, the district still ran on 1 Mbps T-1 lines and could not stream video, audio, or conduct conference calls over the Web.
2009–2012 Technology Integration Plan. District 116 created a three-year technology integration plan beginning in 2009. The plan worked to “incorporate telecommunications, instructional technology and information technology as a natural part of education to ensure that all students will have the opportunity to develop lifelong learning skills necessary to be productive citizens in an information-driven, global society” (“Technology Integration Plan,” 2009, p. 3). The integration of equitable technology in the classroom opened the door for new models of teaching that matched nontraditional student learning styles. At the time, only 46.9% of District 116 teachers reported in a survey that they were advanced personnel computer users, while the rest indicated had either intermediate or basic computing skills (p. 21). A major weakness of teacher technology use revealed by the 2009 district survey showed that a large percentage of teachers never generated graphs, used spreadsheets, or required students to participate in online discussion groups or collaborative projects. Moreover, the district faced new gaps and education needs. From 2002 to 2008, the percent of low socioeconomic students increased from 40.4% to 60.3% and district enrollment dropped from 4424 to 3752 students, creating a larger technology gap. It is estimated that “less than 50% of the students in schools with high economically disadvantaged populations are estimated to have Internet access at home” (p. 24). The 2009–2012 Technology Integration Plan attempted to provide high-quality bandwidth that supported audio and video webstreaming in all district schools so as to provide a place for minority and economically disadvantaged students a place to access technology resources.
This CU wiki entry began as a UIUC research project. For more on that see Study of UC2B Anchor Institutions' Technology Use