You are here

Articles: Infrastructure

Elementary students in Metropolitan School District in Indiana use Chromebooks for lessons and assessments.

At least one midwestern district is ready—or at least thinks it’s ready—for what most states are calling Common Core assessments. The Metropolitan School District of Warren Township, Ind., an urban district in Indianapolis, had a jumpstart on technology and assessments thanks in part to a three-year, $28.5 million Race to the Top grant.

With both Common Core testing and a 2013-2014 districtwide BYOD initiative looming, Rockwood School District in St. Louis County, Mo., required a strong Ethernet connection between buildings. As the district spans 150 square miles, the large area needed high-level coverage. According to Will Blaylock, the district’s CIO, the provider the district had been using prior to July 2013 had been meeting the district’s needs, but they were looking for more.

The influx of devices and applications that result from a BYOD project typically strain a district’s wireless network. Keeping your network secure is also a concern. However, with the proper device and network management tools, these issues can be mitigated and innovative ways of delivering education through technology can be achieved. This web seminar, originally broadcast on August 22, 2013, featured experts from Cisco Meraki and GovConnection, who offered advice on how to plan for, implement, and manage wireless networks in a BYOD environment.

The Common Core State Standards assessments will be implemented in the 2014-2015 school year. To prepare, district technology leaders need to look at their networks and systems. Changes may need to be made to handle the challenges of online assessments. This web seminar, originally broadcast on August 8, 2013, featured district and PARCC speakers who discussed the format of the assessments, the technology requirements necessary to deploy the assessments, and the challenges in preparing your networks.

The Oyster River Cooperative School District in Durham, N.H., recently upgraded to gigabit wired connectivity and replaced its legacy Wi-Fi with Aruba Networks. Above, Carolyn Eastman, assistant superintendent, meets with IT Director Joshua Olstad.

Implementing technology upgrades required for Common Core assessments can be more opportunity than burden for districts seeking the most academic achievement from their IT spending.

Richard Culatta is the deputy director of the Office of Educational Technology at the Department of Education.

Last June, President Obama unveiled ConnectED, a five-year initiative designed to connect 99 percent of America’s students to the internet through high-speed broadband and high-speed wireless—and also equip public schools with the tools to make the most of the enhanced connectivity.

 A teacher is trained to use one of the 700 Asus tablets given to educators in Central USD in Fresno. All of the district’s 15,000 students will get tablets in the 2014-2015 school year.

The rise of 1-to-1 programs has pushed a surge of mobile devices into schools, creating a whole new logistical challenge for district CIOs.

Online learning is an exciting and limitless prospect, but the applications and devices required to support it demand a robust district network infrastructure. Though establishing the necessary broadband foundation can seem daunting, the resulting benefits are worthwhile pursuits. This web seminar, originally presented on June 4, 2013, addressed the importance of broadband today and in the future, factors to consider when developing a network plan, and the innovative initiatives made possible with high amounts of bandwidth.

The shift in CIO responsibilities has also trickled down to the rest of the tech team. No longer is it enough to be knowledgeable in computers. IT employees must have strong people skills as well. Here’s what CIOs said they look for:

Just five years ago, a student information system was used to take attendance and add or change grades. The tech director chose one, installed it and, in about two minutes, showed teachers how to use it.

Now, “it’s a portal for teachers to send assignments and for parents, students, and teachers to communicate with each other,” says Melissa Tebbenkamp, director of instructional technology at Raytown Quality Schools in Missouri.

At Batavia Public Schools in Illinois, administrators gather with CIO Anton Inglese. From left to right, Kris Mon, assistant superintendent of finance; Superintendent Lisa Hichens, Inglese, and Steve Pearce, assistant superintendent for human resources.

WANTED: CHIEF INFORMATION OFFICER: Looking for a technology expert, experienced with Mac and PC; servers; mobile technologies—including smartphones, tablets, laptops, and netbooks; coding; and helpdesk. Must be a strong people person and a great communicator, coach, and teacher, used to juggling multiple projects simultaneously, a team player, and always willing to pitch in. Comfortable in a fast-paced environment. People who have one way of doing things need not apply.

The need for high-speed internet in schools is growing exponentially. District Administration spoke with four administrators from around the country about what is driving current bandwidth-consumption trends, what impact increased bandwidth has on tight budgets, and what the future of bandwidth looks like for K12 schools.

JIM RARUS

Some of the school districts adopting online Common Core assessments to measure academic achievement in 2014-2015 plan to develop their own tests.

In a survey released by Enterasys, a company specializing in wireless systems, 42 percent of schools plan to develop their own tests, while 55 percent of schools are likely to work with the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) or the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC).

With so many cloud options, district CIOs should push vendors for details about their security and privacy services. “With the cloud, you have to ask big questions,” says Taiye Lambo, founder of CloudeAssurance. He suggests that CIOs assess three major security areas: confidentiality, integrity, and availability.

Cloud computing is taking K12 by storm with fully 90 percent of K12 institutions relying on or implementing cloud technology in 2012, according to the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN). District CIOs are under increased pressure to cut costs and keep up with the latest technological trends, and implementing the cloud is an easy fix.

Pages