Beyond Devices: A Tech Leader’s Advice to Building School Community

21 June 2024 | By viviedu

The role of technology in education

This piece originally appeared on on May 13, 2014.

As you enter today’s classrooms, it’s clear: Technology isn’t just a tool, it’s the driving force behind vibrant communities, shaping how students learn and teachers connect. Many students have access to technology in their classrooms, but the true challenge lies in harnessing resources effectively to enhance learning and build stronger, more resilient communities.

As schools strive to adapt to the demands of the modern digital world, the focus has shifted beyond simply providing access to devices toward leveraging technology to enhance instructional methods and foster meaningful engagement and connection to each other and their teachers.

Many schools prioritize stakeholder collaboration in the process of assessing technological needs. By embracing a collaborative approach, schools and districts can ensure that the adoption of new technologies aligns with the diverse needs and aspirations of students, teachers and the wider community and that the vision is truly shared, resulting in a more dynamic, interactive experience.

Insights from Daniel Gauna: Bridging tech and instruction

Recently, EdSurge (in partnership with Vivi) spoke with Daniel Gauna, the executive director of information technology at El Segundo Unified School District, California. Gauna has 16 years of experience within the district. Before assuming his current role, Gauna worked as a consultant for local school districts in the South Bay area, focusing on components of technology infrastructure such as firewalls, routing and switching.

Although his background is in technology, his current role requires him to work closely with the Educational Services team to support instructional applications and other related aspects. Gauna strongly believes in the significance of engagement and collaboration in defining technology needs and goals.





EdSurge: What is your school district’s vision for technology integration?

Gauna: Being part of a small school district allows us to work more directly with the community, particularly concerning our direction with technology and instructional methods. We focus on how we can support both our students and staff in our vision.

The district goal involves supporting both the technology and instructional sides. The key is to leverage our technology so that our students see it as more than just a device in their hands; it’s about knowing how to use these tools effectively. This means shifting from tech-dependent to tech-enabled.

We want to see technology leveraged beyond the traditional classroom approach. We want to make sure that students are engaged with our teachers and vice versa, that teachers can engage with students.

EdSurge: How did the district determine which technologies to adopt in alignment with its vision?

Gauna: We involved stakeholders. I always believe in doing a proof of concept to ensure something fits into our infrastructure. Despite my network and security background, I also view things from a teacher’s perspective. I know the importance of approach, especially for our teachers. We sought change and improvement in our classroom setup.

So, we tested a casting solution last year. We involved three teachers from each school grade to assess its ease of use and instructional benefits. The Vivi solution proved much easier for us to roll out from a tech perspective, and on the instructional side, it had more tools for our teachers to use. Gathering feedback beforehand made a smooth transition to when we fully implemented it in the summer.

Impact of technology in El Segundo School District

EdSurge: Once adopted, how has technology helped you to enhance learning experiences and foster engagement and connection?

Gauna: At El Segundo Unified School District, as I mentioned earlier, our focus and vision are that our classrooms are tech-enabled and not tech-dependent — leveraging technology to enhance our students’ learning experiences overall and build additional bridges between students, teachers, leaders and even content.

Since we launched Vivi this fall, our elementary principal has started making morning announcements using its video streaming feature across the whole school, sometimes reading books. This has become a highlight for our teachers, students and even our central office staff, who tune in to start their day with a smile.

Technology can sometimes get a bad rap because people think students are just sitting on devices, but at El Segundo, students use their devices to create, collaborate and share their work in engaging ways. One of our teachers shared how one of her non-verbal students has taken a 180 [turn] because of being able to share his work wirelessly with Vivi. Before this tool came into our classrooms, he literally was unable to share his voice. Now he can, and that is the power of technology when it is effectively paired with instruction.