Pickens Co. Schools will receive new technology with $845,000 grant and district investment

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PICKENS COUNTY, SC (WSPA)–Pickens County students will see nearly one million dollars in new technology, thanks to a huge federal grant. The School District of Pickens County has also made a six figure investment in students’ education.

Whether you’re inside a Pickens County classroom or at home, education will look different very soon.

“Well we’re very grateful to receive a federal Distance Learning Grant to fund $845,000 in technology and connectivity for our schools,” said John Eby, Spokesperson, for the School District of Pickens County.

That grant, and $150,000 in matched funding from the district, will bring 83 Clear Touch Screens to elementary schools and video conferencing technology.

“Those are interactive touch screens for students in elementary and it allows them to do all kinds of cool touch screen lessons and programs. But it also allows another person to remotely interact with that screen. So you can have children sharing lessons with teachers, and students in other schools,” Eby said.

“The things we’re going to do with this grant are things that we were pushing towards before coronavirus had even hit. We were already piloting this technology and had it in place,” Eby explained.

In addition, 13 Webex Room Kits and 11 Room Kit Minis will go to middle and high schools. The experience will be similar to having a live production crew in class at all times. This will allow students at home to view everything going on inside their classrooms.

“We have screens in the front and in the back of the classroom, and microphones in the front and in the middle of the class. So if anybody is speaking, the cameras are on that person. And even the students at home can see whoever is talking in class and it’s almost like they’re in the classroom,” said William Wilson, teacher at Daniel High School.

Wilson has been a part of the pilot group using the technology since last year. One of his AP students said having the new devices during the pandemic has been a game changer.

“It’s really cool. Like I have friends in this class who are online and at the start of the year, we thought we weren’t really going to get to interact with them at all. But it’s nice to be able to interact with them in the class, even if they’re not here,” said Liam Chandler, Sophomore at Daniel High School.

The district said this will allow them to expand their curriculum from one school to another, and in some cases, to other classrooms across the country.

“What we’ve been able to do with that, is offer AP courses from one school and allow students from another school to attend that class virtually,” Eby said. “Even after this whole pandemic is over, we will still be able to expand the opportunities because the way we have expand our use of technology during this pandemic.

Although Eby said this has been in the works since before the pandemic, Wilson and students said it has helped.

“Even students who are even sick at home or quarantine or different things, they can tune into my class and keep going. Stay up with the class, don’t fall behind, so there’s a lot of potential with this new technology,” Wilson said.

It’s now a cool and new way of during school now, and many years to come.

“I’m super excited that we have the opportunity to use all this stuff,” Chandler added.

Eby said right now, they are working on rolling this out to the various classrooms. He said the process will take some time.

The implementation phases will occur over a three year period.

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