Integrating Technology into the Community

Posted by Matt Berringer on August 2, 2012

School Kiosk By Dr. Ramiro Zuniga

I just read an article that really made an impact on me. The author of the article wrote of a Texas school district that placed kiosks in different areas of town. This particular school district not only used these kiosks to provide the access to their community, but also sold advertising through the kiosks in an effort to generate revenues.

The article focused on the revenue aspect of this undertaking. It is after all, a creative way by which the school district can raise revenues, especially during the current budget crisis. For me however, that is not what caught my attention.

What I thought was of greater significance was the ability for anyone in the community to access the school district network resources. According to the article, these kiosks were placed in restaurants, grocery stores, municipal courts, and real estate offices other high traffic locations.

What a great idea! Although kiosks have been around for many years, I can honestly say that I haven’t spent much time thinking about this technology. I can easily see some of the possibilities that these devices could bring about.

How many times have you been in a building where the signal to your cell phone dies out? How many times you been unable to open an attachment on your smartphone? Here is yet another avenue by which parents and students could access the Internet, instructional resources, and other information.

I can recall sitting in a real estate office wishing that I had brought my laptop so that I could view homes that the real estate agent pointed to on her desktop screen. A kiosk would be ideal for this situation.

I can also see the placement of a kiosk in a community center as being extremely beneficial to those that do not own technology equipment of their own. In such a setting, community members can begin to learn to use the Internet and overcome any fears of using technology.

Imagine a parent on the run printing out his or her child’s sports schedule. How about a parent checking school menus at a grocery store without having to pull out there cell phone from their pocket or purse? There really are a lot of possibilities.

It is easy to see how these kiosks would function well in all of the above mentioned locations. After all, many kiosks utilize touch screens for navigation. This makes the use of kiosks fairly intuitive and easy to use. In many ways, kiosks are less intimidating than laptops or even smartphone applications to inexperienced users. Another plus is that kiosks can have the ability to print.

Another thing to consider is that kiosks stand alone and are compact. With kiosks, users typically stand while using the device. There are no chairs or desks to purchase. The compact size allows for the kiosks to be tucked into a corner or up against a wall without sacrificing much in terms of pathways.

Of course, these kiosks can also benefit the location owners. The article that I mentioned earlier pointed out that these kiosks increased traffic for those locations. I can also see that the traffic may linger a little longer inside of these locations as a result of the kiosks.

And of course, you can’t talk about technology without taking into account the cost of technology. Considering the potential high traffic locations, the costs for kiosks may be reasonable. Kiosks can vary in pricing depending on features but many districts have been able to implement kiosks.

Lastly, these kiosks can be customized to make use of school colors and school mascots. What a great way to let the community know that the district officials want to increase communication. Kiosks would serve to work against a very common criticism of public schools; lack of communication. It is my belief that school districts can never do enough to overcome this criticism.

Again, what a great idea!

Topics: technology, communication, community, education, Leadership, K-12