Tech Report

Date: April 16, 2009
To: Michael Green
From: Steve Rippl
Subject: Tech Dept. Executive Summary

I'm very pleased with the results of our new thin client lab in Aaron's room. After our usual array of issues with delayed delivery of some small switches and a couple of days of testing with Aaron and his students while we tuned the server settings, things seem to now be going very well. We have 28 old computers in there making very little noise (because we took the hard drives out), and his classes are able to access the internet, Aaron's Moodle courses and their office applications. Mark Knudson now has 12 Linux "fat client" (the hard drives are in there and the computer is running from it's own OS, not off a server) and my goal now is to compare the two setups in action. The thin clients obviously have the advantage of generating less noise and heat, while the normal computers should theoretically handle things like streaming video better. My initial brief observation is that the thin clients are actually quicker for the day to day things like logging in and starting apps, but we'll let it run for a while to see what comes up.

Over the Spring break we hosted an informal session on Linux and Moodle for techs and Tech Directors from Camas, Battle Ground, Ocean Beach, Stevenson Carson, the ESD and the Washington School for the Blind. We shared what we were already doing in each of our Districts (Camas, for example, is pushing the Linux thin client solution aggressively, planning to have entire Elementary schools on them by next September) and went through the process of administrating Moodle on Linux. It was a very positive session and I hope to run another one or two over the summer, I think it would be a good thing to build up the collaborative effort on the open source front within our local ESD.

We're beginning the work of creating a K-6 "student progress system", essentially a database of student test scores and grades which can produce very specific displays of the student data. The Primary School already pays for somebodies version of this, which they rely on heavily for their conferences and report cards, while the Intermediate School has been in need of this to properly store and handle the data that Mo Anderson works with. By building one integrated system we improve the data that teachers and aides have to hand in terms of historical data (right now that data "disappears" when a student goes from the Primary to the Intermediate School), make it more easily accessible in the Intermediate School, reduce Mo Anderson's work load in terms of data management and save the Primary School some money every year! 

Finally we've had Gene Read, a HS senior, in the department doing his Service Learning Project. We were asked at the last minute if we would take him as he is studying computers and networking at the Skills Center and the project he had lined up fell through. He has helped us out with a classroom computer issue, stripped down broken down machines so we can keep usable parts for spares and labeled desktop machines that were missing our inventory labels. He also helped sort through our disordered pile of software CDs that had been neglected for too long and cleaned out some of our old documentation files for long disused software, our office is in better shape for having had him around!