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Feature for District CIO

Old computers may not be trendy, but as school tech budgets shrink or stagnate, many administrators try to squeeze the most life out of their aging devices. Recycling and retrofitting, and hooking up to the cloud, allow districts to delay or even abandon established schedules for buying brand-new equipment.

Districts often deploy VoIP to replace outdated “plain old telephone systems” that are past warranty or can’t be fixed because replacement parts are scarce.

The internet delivers assessments, videos and instructional content to schools, so why not phone service, too? Adding voice to the bandwidth communications stream makes sense to an increasing number of district leaders who are abandoning traditional landlines.

At Mountain Brook Schools in Alabama, Technology Director Donna Williamson, left, and her tech team still use their on-site server because they didn’t see savings with the cloud.

A convergence of market maturity, increased availability of high-capacity bandwidth and a track record of security has more K12 districts trusting their mission-critical administrative software to the cloud.

Penn Manor School District IT staff and student technology apprentices discuss FLDT, their DIY software imaging program for in-house student laptop management.

Developers created some of the world’s most recognized software in garages and college dorms. The same do-it-yourself spirit thrives today across public education. School innovators customize software that ranges from small applications used within a single classroom to programs that support a district’s full administrative functions.

At Blue Valley Schools in Kansas, above, the website redesign team shows off its work. CIO Greg DeYoung stands on the far right.

A district’s website presents contrasting demands. It needs to be a constant digital presence: always up and always available. Yet its content and functionality are ever changing.District leaders solve this challenge in several ways.

Most school districts back up student, human resource and finance records and other essential administrative data every night.

From hurricanes to software viruses to accidental keystrokes, many dangers threaten to corrupt school district data or impede access to it. To prevent loss of critical information, districts back up data routinely, on location and off-site. New devices and lower-priced cloud offerings mean districts no longer have to trade access for cost.

3D printing offers multiple ways for students to get hands-on experience and to gain marketable skills before leaving high school

3D printing offers multiple ways for students to get hands-on experience and to gain marketable skills before leaving high school. Administrators must find ways to integrate the technology into existing courses or to enhance new class offerings.

Why are 3D printers so important to education now and what future trends should CIOs be aware of to ensure the technology succeeds in the classroom?

Rajeev Kulkarni

Vice president and chief product officer

3D Systems

At Mentor Public Schools in Ohio, the IT team set up Chromebooks for all the elementary schools. And as part of the 1-to-1 initiative, high school students will have MacBooks.

There’s good news for district leaders in the ongoing battle to meet the ever-increasing demand for bandwidth. One-gigabit networks are coming to more areas, the cost of service per megabit is decreasing, and funding through E-rate and other sources is increasing.

An image on the Common Sense Graphite landing page, above, illustrates how educators might search for content.

Getting the right education apps into classrooms isn’t as easy as reading reviews, doing a quick download and making a link available to staff. Because there isn’t a standard rating system to verify whether an app will live up to its educational claims, there’s no single best approach to matching student needs with new programs.

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