Extra Credits rounds up the latest stories on innovative educational endeavors coming from other parts of Microsoft and the world. This entry shares an ambitious plan for improving student engagement in Brevard Public Schools, a school district serving more than 73,000 students across 17 municipalities along Florida’s tech-centric “Space Coast.” The district’s vision called for a one-to-one ratio of students to Windows 10 devices, with strong support for cloud-based Microsoft solutions to boost college and career readiness.
It’s a challenge that Barrett Puschus has embraced in his role as Technology and Network Operations Coordinator at Brevard Public Schools, a school district in Brevard County, Florida. “We strive to serve every student with excellence as a standard. That’s our district’s motto, and it applies equally to our delivery of technology,” says Puschus. Given the technological sophistication that many Brevard students grow up with at home, this creates a high bar. “We launch rockets here, so we probably have a more computer tech–savvy student base than most counties.”
The district knew that balancing the perennially limited school budgets and a small IT staff with the needs of 73,000 students would take creativity. Puschus and his staff also faced the need to support a variety of device types and a wide range of third-party applications that required various operating systems. “We ran into compatibility issues between a reading application beloved by our first graders and Internet Explorer,” says Puschus. “We were able to restore the application for them, but it meant going backward instead of forward with the technology—something we of course wanted to avoid.” Puschus sought a way to satisfy the district’s vision without breaking its budget. A former educator himself, he appreciated the richness that the right technology, coupled with excellent teaching, could bring to the lives of students.
Brevard Public Schools found its technology answer in a blend of Microsoft solutions. Implementing Windows 10 and Microsoft Office 365 Education has afforded the district a more secure, reliable computing environment that offers students up-to-date applications and easy online collaboration.
“We want our students to develop the skills they need to support our high tech industries. The tools and products used in Office 365 help students learn more than just how to use technology. Students can use these tools to learn how to collaborate and work in a team environment. If you really think about it, the workplace doesn’t consist of desks lined up in rows with employees working in isolation. Technology helps removes those barriers and gives kids time to explore what they are learning and develop the ‘soft skills’ that are needed to be successful.”
– Pam Aulakh, Manager of Educational Technology for Brevard Public Schools