Technology Director Report

To: Michael Green

From: Steve Rippl

Date: February 21, 2017

Subject: Tech Dept Executive Summary

We’ve finally ordered the new Chromebook carts for the middle and intermediate schools that they have been waiting on. The District had offered to pay 50% towards new carts and the buildings were raring to go, but we held off because Dell was bringing out a new model of their student Chromebook, that wasn’t released until last week. By holding off we’ve guaranteed ourselves at least 2 extra years of software update support on them, important for extending their useful lifetimes. Apparently, they shipped immediately, so I am feeling more confident about my promise to have them ready no later than the return from Spring Break! They will, of course, be useful for our testing, but teachers are also making more and more use of them and have been requesting extra carts.

The primary school is holding off just for a bit as they decide on the merits of new touch screen options on Chromebooks. These are more expensive, but in combination with the ability to run android app on Chromebooks (which you can now do) they offer some new, though unexplored, potential.

Not everything is smooth sailing when it comes to Chromebooks and State testing though! AIR, the company responsible for providing the tests, publishes which versions of each operating system are supported. It’s not an enviable job to have to support the wide range of devices that exist now. They recently lifted the ChromeOS version to 55 so we duly allowed our Chromebooks to update (Google gives us control to “fix” the OS version at a certain point, crucial for staying in compliance for things like this), but a while later discovered a problem with the ELPA (ELL) tests. Their advice is to now stay at version 53, but that’s not easy to do once you’re at 55! Fortunately, we have some install images from version 53 on thumb drives from a previous round of updates and tests, and we can use these to downgrade the couple of dozen Chromebooks needed for this test. Going forwards we’ll now make it a practice to “capture” those earlier version when we upgrade, just in case!