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Port Arthur ISD looking at new technology to engage students, boost results

Kenneth Daigre, instructional technology supervisor at the Port Arthur Independent School District, is a self-professed nerd.

And as a nerd he often finds himself researching the latest gadgets and instruments that can help students. Daigre stood in front of school board members and the superintendent this week with a 75-inch interactive panel and much smaller 35-inch eGlass to show how these items can be advantageous to students.

“I’m just a nerd and want what’s best for the students,” he joked after his presentation.

The technology

PAISD already has something like this in some classrooms and Daigre hopes, if the board approves it, to place an interactive panel in every classroom in the district.

While the interactive panel looks like a TV set, it’s not.

And while the demo set that was used in the recent presentation was large, he’s looking to have 65-inch sets for the classrooms that are similar to the size of the 6X9 projectors being used.

“Teachers are constantly, constantly, constantly looking for tools they can use to increase engagement of students, and you know that we live in the digital age,” Daigre said. “The digital age has rapidly increased during COVID with virtual learning and just pushed us to the next level.”

And while the pandemic is still ongoing and COVID cases are once again rising, these devices could also be used in virtual learning.

Daigre said student engagement is heightened with multiple touch and gesture interactivity, which allows for up to four students or student-and-teacher combinations to use the device at once.

Daigre said research shows a 12 percent increase in standardized test scores in districts using the devices.

The second device Daigre brought along was eGlass, which is a clear writing glass with an integrated camera that can be used in the classroom and for virtual learning.

Daigre wants to see these in math and science classrooms, he said.

“This is one of the most innovative products I’ve seen and it works in conjunction with the television (interactive panels),” he said. “It takes the old school chalkboard and it takes new virtual instruction and combines it together.”

Trustee Debra Ambroise was excited about the new technology and asked Daigre if the new product can be integrated with current software and how long will it take to get these in the classroom should be board approve the purchase.

Daigre explained the two devices would work with the current software, and that the “TVs” are being ordered with special stands to allow younger students a chance to work on them when the device is extended flat like a table.

No price was given for the devices but, if approved at a later date, funding could come from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief fund.

A timeline on a final purchase decision has not been set.