Thursday, August 26, 2010

A New Week & Some New Challenges

The first week of school has come and gone and the tech team has been busy trying to make sure everything has been up and running. This year, as I have stated before, our students are bringing their own connectivity and we are using as many electronic books as possible to get. All of our students have a school email address and they each have their own access to Edline which is the school's learning management system.

So what has the first week been like and what are some of the good and the bad that has happened? The tech team put together very specific instructions about how to connect to our wireless network and passed it out to our faculty. They had the chance to then work with the students on getting connected. Each teacher also has the ability to pass out access codes to Edline and then we also passed out the school email addresses to several key faculty who were in charge of specific grade levels. Along with these codes and instructions teachers were given the licenses for their particular classes and they are responsible for passing out the instructions for the ebooks in their classes.

Some of the problems that were run into were things like not enough time to get everything passed out in one class period. Students are at varying levels of connectivity and ability so it takes a little longer. Some faculty are more sure about what they are doing than others so it became a case of checking on those teachers. Machines seeking updates from the internet for windows or snow leopard or adobe. This all decreases the amount of bandwidth that is available for the things we really need to do, then compound that with the fact that while teachers are working with other students those that are connected and ready to go are using Facebook and Youtube to entertain themselves and visit with friends in other classes. Our Facebook usage was 65% of our bandwidth and Youtube usage was 35%. That doesn't leave much for the rest of what we were trying to do. We sent this information out to our faculty and reminded them about engagement in the classroom as well as if you aren't using the laptops for things in class have the students put them away. The next day those percentages dropped incredibly.

The largest problem that the tech team ran in to was suddenly we could not get students on the network at all. They were not getting an ip address assigned. After a lot of discussion and talking with some different folks we discovered that our ip pool had been drained and our DHCP server had nothing to dish out when people tried to connect. As we talked about it we have approxiamtely 230 desktops, 40-50 laptops, several dozen printers and some copiers and these are all assigned IP addresses along with our switches for managing the network. After adding another 512 ip's to the pool info started flowing. We still have some work as our leases are set for 90 days and we need to change that as a a parent could walk on campus, log on to our wireless and leave and we lose an ip address for 90 days.

We will continue tweaking our system to make it the most efficient and secure possible meaning vlan, guest network and the likes. Feel free to ask any questions as we continue on this journey this year. Our hope is to help other miss some of the obstacles that we face along the way.

So much to learn and so little time.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Wireless, ebooks and maybe paperless!

This week our students begin their orientation camps for the new school year. By Thursday all of our students will be in for classes. It will be an exciting year this year with a lot of changes taking place. We have asked our students to bring some type of connectivity so they can be hooked up to the wireless that we put in last summer. While a fee was charged each student for books, the school will supply whatever book is available for the class be it electronic format or hardback. Our students have email online, file storage online, learning management accounts online for their classes as well as the ability for electronic turn in of homework. We are truly encouraging our teachers to go as paperless as possible. We will see.

I hope to summarize each week how things go this year as we venture in to this area. I am sure there are some other schools doing this but I have not heard as of yet. I hope everyone has a great year and you are able to help implement the change that is needed at your school or district. Be the change you want to be in the world. (Ghandi)

So much to learn and so little time.