School Starts, New Technology Debuts

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School started for us on Monday. It was a busy day with new laptops and docking stations connected to the ActivBoards. It went quite well for the first time having teachers use them in the wild world of a realtime classroom.

Some of the new technology advancements that we start the year with are:

  • New teacher and student laptops
  • Wireless campus
  • New assessment labs (3)
  • New web based technology service request option
  • New email and collaboration systems

It was a pretty smooth transition to Sharepoint and Outlook 2007. We actually rolled them out the last 2 weeks of the school year in May, but with a summer of non use I did a technology institute on both for 2 1/2 hours on Friday with great turnout. As we move forward I have created a tutorial course in our Angel Web learning system for the teachers and staff to get help when they need it. I will also use it to teach different initiatives that we put in place during the year.

The wireless install went very well and the testing also went better than I had hoped as I was able to work with our best network technician at the main school offices to troubleshoot any issues. Along with the wireless we had 3 rooms revamped to become assessment labs, intensive learning labs and a graphic design lab. These labs are getting up to speed as we work through the first week of school.

The new laptops and desktops for the labs are part of our equitable learning, technology refresh program that is replacing old technology every 4 to 5 years. As a school with older technology we were part of Phase 1. You can see the difference in the students using laptops at their desks versus a limited amount of desktops at a fixed location. This is going to make the learning process more fluid and interesting. It opens the teaching possibilities for a classroom immensely.

Lastly, we have another option for getting service requests to me to help the teachers. This method is web based, does not require the teacher to go to the phone to call a service desk and is faster in response from their input to me receiving the request. I look forward to seeing improved service from Help!

And away we go into a new school year!

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5 thoughts on “School Starts, New Technology Debuts

    Matt Freedman said:
    August 26, 2009 at 7:36 am

    I’d be interested in hearing what type of computers you are using in your school (also, what type of school do you work at?) to compare to the computer that are (commonly) used in school’s around here.

    BTW, you have a typo in the title of this post (“technolgy”).

    Ray Ebersole said:
    August 27, 2009 at 12:22 am

    Hi Matt,

    We removed all the Mac’s and replaced them with HP laptops for the students 19 carts @ 1 cart per 4 teachers with 22 students to a room average. The teachers also got new laptops with desktops for the 4 assessment labs, 25 for the Reading/Plato lab, 30 for the CTE (Career Tech)lab and 25 for the Graphic Design lab.

    The laptops are HP 6930p Elitebooks with Core Duo 2.26Ghz, 4 gig RAM, 160gig HD. The desktops are 5800 or 7900 small form HP’s similarly setup like the laptops.

    We are a Middle school with between 800 and 1000 students. We are also the Visual Performing Arts magnet in our district. The areas for VPA are Dance, Orchestra, TV Production, Creative Writing and Drama.

    The Graphic Design and CTE labs are also part of VPA as specialized classes, while we have a applied career technical academy that helps students in developing a career in a technical field or in technology.

    As for me I support the whole school as a school based technology support from the district headquarters. Which means I work for the district, but I am mostly based at this one school during the school year.

      Matt Freedman said:
      August 27, 2009 at 6:05 am

      Speaking as a student in a High School with ~1600 students. Our High School is apparently the top in the district for Technology programs.

      We have three classrooms with around 30 computers each and a library with around 35 computers. There are at least two carts with 15 notebooks each.

      One of the classrooms (used mainly for Animation, Photography, Graphic Design and Video classes) had the computers upgraded 2 years ago with Dell’s (90nm Core 2 Dou ~2.0GHz, 2GBs RAM, ATI x1300 256MB GPUs).

      The second classroom (Information Technology, Web Design) was upgraded last year (again with Dells, they have an exclusive agreement, from what I hear) with (65nm Core 2 Dou’s at 2.2GHz, 2GBs RAM, ATI HD 2400 Pro 256MB GPUs).

      The third classroom received the old computer from the second classroom.

      The library has the oldest and most beat-up computers (kids find it amusing to to switch/remove keys around and stick gum in USB ports, apparently).

      The carts are used mainly in the Science labs. The notebooks are in poor shape, with batteries that are close to their EOL and (again) missing/switched keys.

      All classroom’s have an aging (at least four years old) computer, along with an overhead projector, and a “media cart” (projector w/ VGA cables, DVD/VCR combo). Although, last year a Math teacher was given a Tablet (/Notebook) PC to use in place of the overhead projector. It’ll be interesting to see if they continue to expand this to more teachers. It certainly has potential (teachers can save all their notes, and prepare them from home), as well as reducing waste (used cellophane rolls, used on the overhead projectors, are thrown in the garbage currently).

      Near the end of last year, I overheard talk of at least one new cart of notebooks (possibly Macs). As school is not back in session yet, I’m not sure what happened to this. There was also talk of a school-based NAS to replace our reliance on the district’s (which only allows 100-200MBs of storage per student).

      Overall, the computer situation at my school isn’t particularly bad, but it isn’t very good compared to your school, or considering this school is the top Technology school in the district.

      I’d like to see the Animation classroom get another upgrade, as the machines are grossly underpowered for the 3D Modeling and Animation with Lightwave. Since this year we’re getting Maya (and related Autodesk 3D programs), I expect this situation to worsen further. I can’t imagine exporting video is a quick process either.

      The teacher’s computer’s should also be replaced (I think the Tablet/Notebook PCs would be great for all teachers), and the teacher’s should be properly trained in the (overly-complex) programs the district has created for student/schedule/marking management.

      Unfortunately, many of the computers in my school are also improperly configured. Things like having to close the “Register” window in all Adobe programs, having to open Word twice each time you login (it wants a username the first time) are major annoyances when trying to get your work done. The software is also outdated (IE6 and FF 1.5 FTL). I’d like to see somebody competent setup our computers…

      It’s interesting that, even with your school not having a large focus on Technology classes, your computer situation in (in most cases) many times better than ours. Sounds like your school got plenty of technology funding this year. I don’t foresee that happening for my school (Autodesk is giving our school free licenses for their 3D software, and they were in talks with Dell about getting the NAS for free. If you were wondering where all that money was coming from).

      BTW, do you use XP or Vista at your school?

      Ray Ebersole said:
      August 27, 2009 at 6:20 pm

      Our district has ActivBoards which enhance the classroom lessons. We also have document camera’s attached to the ActivBoard that are camera’s, overheads, video webcam’s and just an all purpose multimedia device.

      We had a big push with technology in the last 5 to 7 years that has given us some great classroom experiences.

    […] Ebersole hit the top of the heap with 36 comments. Over on his blog, he’s writing about the new school year and all the new technology that’s being sent to the classrooms and staff rooms. He’s […]

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