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Technology Services


plan: 2008-2009    Major technoloy projects for the 2008-09 school year included:

  • Continue to identify, evaluate & implement new technologies to streamline effective instructional applications of technology integration.
    • Tablet PC technology has become the cornerstone of our classroom technology integration strategy.  We continue to identify, evaluate & acquire new makes and models that will best suit our performance and budgetary needs.  Our model for technology integration and related professional development has been reviewed with interest by other divisions as they seek to provide their students with 21st Century classroom learning experiences.  A large number of our classroom teachers are now committed to a much higher level of technology integration, and others continue to express interest.
    • After review and evaluation of a number of technology innovations, several new technology integration tools are now in use in BCPS, including
      • Document cameras that enable instant whole-group viewing of source documents from items not easily scanned or not previously available, such as pages from books, 3-D objects, student work such as homework, and more.  Images are easily saved for later use in computer applications.  While document cameras have been around for a number of years, the models now available are less than 1/4th the cost of those a few years ago.
      • Flip Video camcorders and digital voice recorders that provide an inexpensive and easy means for instructional staff to integrate classroom-based multimedia projects into daily instruction.

A number of staff received in-depth orientation to these new technologies at local and regional professional development opportunities, while all instructional staff have/will received large group overview of the tools in faculty meetings.  

  • Implement bandwidth upgrades necessary to maintain and develop applications across the division wide area network and internet.
    • In July 08, BCPS made the move to a different internet provider after Network Virginia informed us that they would no longer be able to provide the two bonded T1 circuits (3 megabit) that had served us for a few years. The transition to the VITA 3megabit bonded circuit was successful, though did not provide any additional bandwidth.  Distance learning bandwidth became marginalized as internet traffic increased.
    • In November 2008, BCPS transitioned to a new arrangement which limited the 3 megabit circuits to compressed video classes, email, outside access to our web site, and server updates.  This move eliminated strained distance learning connections, while providing ample resources to server functions.  Outgoing web access from our students and staff moved to a 3 megabit business DSL line dedicated to student and staff internet access.
  • Encourage greater use of current structures for instructional data storage/access at all three schools, and expand authenticated student storage/access at both elementary schools.
    • Many more instructional staff members are now familiar with the web structures available to them to post content from school department and classroom websites.  Technology staff will continue to consult with teachers to encourage a richer web presence, and to provide tools and strategies for instructional supervisors to monitor content.  Our adoption of Microsoft SharePoint Services as a browser-based content management system has been reviewed by a number of area school divisions (Botetourt, Floyd, Franklin, etc.) who are following our lead with this flexible tool.
    • Continued support has been provided to the ongoing project:  Historical Inquiry in Bath County Classrooms.  Beyond assistance with the Summer 08 team workshops and preschool workday program, considerable assistance has been provided to the project coordinator to enhance plans and structures for sharing online source document images including historical photographs, and then inservicing team participants for ongoing growth of the collection to become a worthwhile resource to BCPS staff.
    • Developed and implemented an online technology integration tool inventory and checkout resource at each school to facilitate use of these ‘occasional’ tools by staff.  In addition to our new document cameras, flip video cameras and digital voice recorders, the online resource will also provide better record keeping of the whereabouts of digital cameras and other school resources in demand by staff.
    • Secured and installed software that automatically creates student active directory accounts that enable student authentication to classroom web structures and lists.  The account status is updated nightly from the school student information system.  Student logins are comprised of FirstML, with a secure algorithm for password generation.  Teachers have begun to utilize the new student accounts for student access.
  • Encourage/assist administrative staff to increase applications for information storage/collaboration with each other, building staff and community.
    • The ongoing math curriculum work in the division had stalled over recent months, in part because inadequate and unwieldy recording structures and management tools.  Over the last few weeks, remarkable progress has been made with groups of teachers working together with Mrs. Hirsh to upload a large amount of math curriculum content to an online resource that promises to  better manage related information:  VDOE Standards of Learning, Objectives, descriptive information relating to each SOL, recommended activities and strategies, assessment resources and support documents.  The result is an integrated information resource that can continue to grow as staff input and revise other resource content.  Through the development process and beyond, staff receive alerts as new content is made available, and the discussion boards give them easy access to their colleagues when they have a curriculum or activity question or issue.  The discussion board may and other online resources may also help the group communicate in the virtual environment, rather than additional time-consuming and difficult to schedule meetings.
    • Coordination of information and making documents available to all staff involved in State Testing programs has been an increasing challenge over the last few years.  A new online testing resource recently developed has already proven itself useful to staff to keep each other informed of special assessment needs of certain students, testing schedules of schools, sharing of resource documents and more.
  • Oversee technology applications during next phase of BCHS renovation to ensure continuity of services during and after construction and to implement final placements/replacements of equipment as the project nears completion.
    • The last quarter of 07-08 and the first quarter of 08-09 were dominated by the completion of the Bath County High School renovation project.  A large number of data lines were brought online, in addition to significant enhancements with wireless capability.  Network infrastructure was relocated multiple times during the various phase work (including relocation of the division’s primary servers and network electronics), and then upgraded after final placements were achieved.  Enhanced backup provisions were installed in Fall 08.  Additional telecommunications lines were installed and integrated for fire security and 911 capability.
    • The BCHS distance learning classroom received a major upgrade of network wiring and electronics in Summer 08, eliminating dependence on wireless technologies to power the entire lab.  Wireless access remains available in the area, though without the major drain on resources from a full lab of microcomputers.  The newly installed network cabinet is connected to the school server room via fiber optic cable.  The upgrade has provided significant benefit to users, as well as relieved a strain on tech support staff to assist with frequent needs of distance learning students and staff.
  • 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.
    • Significant progress toward this goal was made over the last few months with the selection and implementation of a divisionwide computer resource management tool that continuously monitors devices on our network to provide information regarding system characteristics and performance—enabling response to problems often before the user is aware of an issue.  We are currently evaluating the bandwidth needs of the system to determine if the system should be managed at school sites rather than from a central server.
    • The final step (Spring & Summer 09) will be linking this and/or other management tools to a work order request system currently in place.
  • Pearson’s SASI Student Information System has been in place in BCPS (and the vast majority of other Virginia school divisions) for the past ten years.  In the summer of 08, Pearson announced that it would discontinue support for SASI within the next year, forcing our division to take on the major task of transitioning to a new records system.  After review of a number of records system options and initial evaluation of Pearson’s latest version of PowerSchool, it was determined that the Pearson product would best meet our needs.  Given the risks involved with delay, the strong recommendation of the publisher to move before the bottleneck time slots of summer 09, and the financial discounts in place for early adopters, division administrative staff determined to make the transition in Spring 09.  The new online system provides a number of advantages over SASI, notably including browser-based access from inside or outside the division wide area network, a K-12 online teacher gradebook program, parent access to attendance and gradebook information and much more.  Fall 08 focused on preparation and initial setup, including configuration of a divisionwide virtual machine server that would provide system services for all three schools from within one server (reducing hardware acquisition & support needs, power consumption and HVAC needs).  Initial staff training was held in February 09, and training with the new scheduling program began April 1, and will continue through the spring.  BCHS staff have been using the new gradebook program with much success.  Fall 09 will be the start of elementary school teacher use of the gradebook system that will automate the report card process for upper grade students; division staff will consider feasibility of online primary grade report cards to replace the fillable Microsoft Word documents previously developed by technology staff.

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