Technology Department Report

Date: August 18th, 2010
To: Michael Green
From: Steve Rippl
Subject: Tech Dept. Executive Summary

It's been a full summer for us as usual.  Lots of software upgrades and some new hardware for our servers.  We had more room changes than normal in most of the buildings, which combined with replacing quite a few staff computers resulted in a lot of equipment being moved.  Some of our very oldest students computers that had really become very unreliable have been replaced as well.

TEAM have moved over to using thin-client computers, which will generate less noise and heat in their room and be more economical to run and replace as they have a fairly high turnover rate for their equipment through breakage.  This was greatly helped by being able to use a pair of the donated servers from USNR.  Another of USNR's servers has gone into the Primary school to enable us to start deploying thin-clients there as well.

Our District, School, and Athletics calendars are now Google calendars which allow parents and staff to subscribe to at home through things like their own Google calendar, Outlook or iCal if they use any of these.  It means that the School calendar appears along with their own (in whichever application they are using) and if we alter anything it automatically adjusts on their calendar.  We'll be advertising this at the beginning of the school year to let folks know.

On the subject of Google our High School students will be using Google for their school email and they will have access to Google Apps (online word processor, spreadsheets and presentation tools) through our Moodle site.  Our District Google Apps Domain gives us full control over things like their email accounts so that their email addresses are still, and they can still only send and receive emails from those that we allow.  As usual our English department will be heading the trial and I'm excited to see how it goes, because things like Google Apps are a gateway into using things like low cost touch screen tablets (think iPad, but ~$100 Android powered ones) instead of computers for the students, a route that make the notion of every student having a tech device more feasible in the future.

We are hosting a new Moodle site for the Math work coming from Evergreen.  We had a short introductory session on Moodle with the teachers from Evergreen and a number of them will be attending the 3 day Moodle workshop for our staff that Aaron Blackwelder is running next week.  I think that having this custom Math curriculum in our online course environment will become a very powerful tool for our Math teachers.

Sips news; the online registration for new Kindergarten students went very well.  At the start of the summer we were able to automate the import of new information for the students into SchoolMaster (everything but the parent/sibling info) greatly reducing the work for Danielle and Shawna.  A little more work is need now to generalize it so that all new students have the option to fill out their registration forms on line, and that the secretaries can import can information straight over to SchoolMaster.   Mo Anderson will be using Sips to generate the new Reading classes for the Intermediate School once we have the latest MSP data in there (which for the first time she will not have to enter by hand!).  I recently introduced Sips to Asha and she seemed excited about the potential, especially around the area of tracking our newly aligned Math assessments.

Right now though the whole department is hustling to get everything back in it's right place, tie up loose ends, make sure things are working as they should be and dealing with the influx of requests that always marks the start of a new year.  I'm already looking forward to Christmas!