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Technology Services


plan: 2007-2008    Major technoloy projects for the 2007-08 school year included:


Evaluate, identify & implement new technologies to streamline effective instructional applications of technology integration.

  • The division extended the Tablet PC Technology Initiative to a second cohort of fifteen teachers, with good participation from each of the three schools.  The program was restructured program this year with local tech staff leading the classes, and focused on applied projects that teachers were using in their classrooms (instead of a “taught” class with focus on a workbook).  Feedback has been very positive from participants.  The workload was much greater on tech staff, but with positive results.  The technology director led most of the sessions this year, but plans to delegate more responsibility to ITRTs next year since we have more of a protocol to follow.  The use of a collaborative class web site this year has enabled participants to more effectively share their learning experiences with others and to keep track of their own progress.  The 06-07 school year was quite successful with our technology professional development program, leading to significant gains in technology integration.  In many ways, our success in the current year is more significant since these staff members had not previously been the premiere “cheerleaders” for technology integration.
  • Technology staff are currently evaluating hardware options for 08-09, including other tablet manufacturers, smaller & less powerful notebooks (much less expensive) as an option for student use, new inexpensive document cameras, and inexpensive digital camcorders that are easy to use for classroom integration activities.
  • Microsoft Office 2007 is intuitive—and it’s not!  The flagship office suite is being successfully used in a number of classrooms, though not without much effort to relearn how to do a number of tasks and to begin to take advantage of new capabilities.  The new software has become a necessary tool for our budget development, overcoming substantial limitations that had become apparent in Office 2003. Technology staff will gradually move over additional staff (with higher end machines) to Office 2007.
  • Instructional staff across the county are becoming much more proficient with digital media including digital cameras, photo editing/presentation software, video clips and more.  Multimedia is not a big deal any more for most staff members.
  • New computers and software were purchased and installed for student and staff use, primarily in lab settings:  elementary school CCC labs, BCHS resource lab and MCTC business lab.

Evaluate internet & WAN bandwidth needs & options, and develop/implement upgrades.

  • Although the school division has made great strides during our association with Network Virginia, we are nearly ready to put into place internet lines from Covanet.  The new group should provide slightly better services at a slightly lower cost.  We will be able to more easily upgrade bandwidth over time with our new internet service provider.  The new connections will become operational in the next couple of weeks.
  • The technology director is evaluating other models that may complement our existing internet services and also provide some redundancy in case of service failure from one provider.
  • Forced use of our content filter in the schools has eliminated a great deal of non-educational web traffic—conserving bandwidth—and has allowed us to continue to expand technology integration with existing resources.
  • We have more than doubled the number of wireless access points throughout school buildings in the past year to respond to the increasing demand for wireless services.  The network infrastructure has been carefully planned to accommodate existing needs with some buffer, though will continue to need adjustment/expansion.
  • A number of network switches have been replaced in the past year as we swap out “end-of-life” devices and respond to increased data capacity requirements.

Develop and implement division-wide student instructional data storage/access capability.

  • All high school students now have available to them document storage space that is password protected and available from any internet-enabled computer—at school or at home.  We have had increasing problems with vandalism of student files on the school-wide “student” folders that are open to all authenticated users.  The new storage structure allows for more secure access by students with continued access by school staff.
  • Schools are increasingly using local server storage resources for data access.  Individual report cards at the elementary schools (K-7) are maintained in the staff resources folder, Flannagan materials are available in this way, United Streaming videos are saved to server resources, etc.  Server-based storage/retrieval is now commonplace with nearly all teaching staff.
  • More teachers are taking advantage of browser-based information sharing resources available to them and their students, integrating traditional web-based information with new Web 2.0 (two-way communication) applications to strengthen their instructional programs.

Assist SAB staff to identify and implement applications for information sharing from support staff to each other, building staff and community.

  • The web presence for special education services remained unchanged for several years, as the program staff did not respond to invitations for assistance to enhance the site, nor have the skills to do this on their own.  The new site put into place this fall has relevant information for parents and is easily updated by program staff without technological expertise.
  • The Personnel Office continues to update their web site without assistance to advertise positions as they become available and to occasionally make announcements.
  • The gifted education services web site has also been updated with relevant information, though remains somewhat ‘under construction.’
  • The School Board web site is fully operational:  secretaries are regularly uploading minutes, agendas, policies and regulations.
  • Administrators and instructional staff continue to be invited to post information to the division “In The News” site to highlight significant events and achievements.  Several staff members have now contributed to the site.  Schools are also using a special filter on their home page to highlight the “In The News” items of particular interest to their patrons.
  • School and Central Office staff are increasingly using the divisionwide browser-based calendar to more effectively communicate with colleagues and community members regarding upcoming events.  The “always current” calendar is widely used by many parents to keep up with their children’s busy schedules.
  • The School board policy manual is now available online for public use, and is regularly updated to remain current.  The web site has several tools to assist patrons, including a specialized search function, topical index and list of recently updated policies.  For the first time, staff members with internet access are now able to receive specific alerts each time the site is updated, and can more reasonably be held to the expectation that they have reviewed and will comply with school board policies and regulations when they are first disseminated.  The online manual is now the tool of choice for staff who wish to research a particular policy topic.
  • The recent development of an online option for the school census survey will serve as a prototype for other public and staff-based information gathering efforts of the division.  Several structures are now in place to provide effective capture of information while providing security to division web resources.

Implement E-SOL program in additional elementary grade levels.

  • While the E-SOL program for 07-08 in not yet visibly underway, there has been much work accomplished to date.  First, there are now several points during the year in which E-SOL capability must be made available—particularly at BCHS with End-Of-Course  testing and retest options.  Preparations continue for the Spring 08 E-SOL program, though students and staff are able to experience the test environment through E-PAT sample tests that are installed on all school servers.  Many classes have been presented a tutorial program to introduce them to E-SOL.  Significant work over the next few weeks will concentrate on individual workstations to ensure their readiness for E-SOL, prepare student data files for submission to Pearson, as well as coordination with SAB and building staff to setup test sessions.  The division will take a number of precautions to eliminate problems experienced last year when the Pearson site continued to be unavailable.  Although we have sufficient resources to perform all testing live/online, we will download tests in advance (at much greater effort) to help ensure a successful experience by students.  May is testing month, and will place significant demands on all tech staff.
  • Much of the technology infrastructure upgrade articulated in number 2 above was done to supplement the E-SOL program—particularly with the demands of increased grade levels participating in the program.

Continue to expand browser-based technology assistance resources, including full implementation of an automated division-wide technology help desk system to track requests for assistance & services provided.

  • A prototype work request and services provided site has been developed, though is not yet ready for wide-scale deployment.  Software changes have created new opportunities for data exchange/coordination, and have not yet been fully examined for their application to this project.  Partial implementation is not advised, as end users will then have to change procedures to accommodate anticipated additions to the software capability.  This project development and prototype has taken a back seat to other more pressing division initiatives such as BCHS construction.

Continue to improve web-based infrastructure to encourage sharing of building and division level documents for public review.

  • See information above regarding browser-based resources that are now available online, particularly the online school board policy manual.  Schools are doing a much better job posting important/timely documents on their respective web sites.
  • The VES web page remained unchanged for most of the 06-07 school year.  New structures in place this fall have enabled a much more shared approach to dissemination of information.
  • A “Division Documents” link is available on the school division home page.  The technology director created a document list last fall, and asked & encouraged staff to add to the list and keep it updated.  The list was jumpstarted with a number of links to documents and web sites, but the list has not otherwise been particularly successful.  Part of the problem was that in the digital world the lines are blurred when it comes to “documents” vs “resources.”  The list required continued duplication of effort and made error much more probable.  If schools do a good job communicating on their web sites, then a master list in a separate location may be redundant.  

READ 180

  • Read 180 was not identified as a division priority (or possibility) last March/April, though required substantial energy this school year—particularly in the fall.  The program soon grew from a high school project to a division initiative.  Since hardware and infrastructure was not a part of the purchase, technology funds were used to upgrade existing BCHS lab computers that were scheduled for replacement.  Although requests were made for three workstations, given the age of the workstations, tech staff installed four extra machines in each classroom.  These machines were all reformatted and then tweaked for READ 180 installation.  Elementary school CCC servers and a high school were restructured for READ 180 use.  Special cabling provisions were made at the elementary schools to accommodate the extra classroom computers. A successful large group workshop was implemented at VES, requiring special accommodations on the CCC lab computers.  Support was provided to all end-users for several weeks in the fall as staff began to fully implement the technology side of the instructional reading program.  Ongoing support from tech staff has been provided, though more of the support is increasingly in the background in the form of software updates.

BCHS Renovation

  • To date this school year, the single technology project that has required the most attention has been the BCHS renovation.  Last April, technology staff were under the impression that the data side of the project was only going to require occasional oversight; obviously, financial needs required a shift in the project’s scope which got me much more involved. We are now well into the final phase of the project as it relates to data cabling and networks.  Each phase has presented with its own special challenges, as the construction site remained the center of the school division’s wide area network and as the successive phases required demolition and restructuring of nearly all of the campus network closets—with all occupied areas of the campus remaining online.  The trailer annex provided the overflow for students and staff displaced by construction, but presented with exceptional challenges to provide continuous service to the administration trailer, the school’s computer resource lab and five other classrooms with significant wired (both fiber optic & copper) and wireless needs.  Beyond our immediate use requirements, the coordination required with the building project coordinator, contractor, maintenance director and data installers has been particularly significant.  Given that our vendor is not part of the ‘master’ plan, we continue to work around the needs of others to accomplish our work.  The nearly final product, from a technological point of view, looks quite good and is highly functional.