2016 Summer Projects — What’s Happening for Next Year

A complex issue.

Here are some big picture updates on the work and projects the technology department will be engaged in this summer.

Student Device Updates:

  • Student MacBook refreshIn following our digital device refresh plan, we will be updating 25% of the student fleet this summer.  That works out to be around 300 computers.  We’ll integrate these into the fleet and retire the oldest computers.  Some of these devices that are still in good working order will be redeployed to the four older elementary buildings (Crest, Heights, Ridge, and View).
  • New Chromebooks deployed to 6th grade and 9th grade Chromebooks retired.  We’ll be sending out about 400 new Chromebooks to our incoming 6th graders.  We’ll be taking in the 9th grade Chromebooks for redeployment and retirement.
  • Updating 5th grade Chromebook fleet.  We’ll be taking a number, around 100 or so, of the retired 9th grade Chromebooks and augmenting the current 5th grade fleet.  These additional devices should provide a sufficient number of devices  that all kids in 5th grade should have access to a device.  But, the intent is that unlike our 6th-12th, these devices will stay at school and be classroom based.
  • New Elementary iPads — Again as part of our overarching digital device plan, we will be rolling out around 250 new iPads intended for use in 1st grade classrooms in our four older elementary buildings.   With the latest version of iOS, the software that runs iPads, Apple is rolling out some really interesting new features.  I’ll write more about that in another post.  These new iPads will get us to a roughly 1:2 device ratio in grades K-1.  Next year, as per our plan, we’ll start getting Chromebooks for 2nd grade.  
  • Chromebooks and Macbooks for the four older elementary buildings — Just like last year, we will continue to add retired Chromebooks and Macbooks to the four older elementary buildings.  I would anticipate that we will be able to give each building about a classroom set of each — about 60 devices total per building.
  • PHS lab updates.  Even with all of our 1:1 devices, there are still labs use for specific curricula that need to be updated.  Last year we updated three labs at Prairie Point.  Next year we’ll update three labs at PHS — digital art, business, and Project Lead the Way.  

Prairie Ridge Infrastructure Update

Crest, Heights, and View will be getting infrastructure updates within the bond project we passed earlier this year.  I’m not sure on the timing of these projects, but they are in the works.  We did update wireless infrastructure at Crest, Heights, and View this year as well — roughly doubling the number of wireless access points in each building.  This helped with coverage and density (number of devices connected) With the updates coming with the bond we will update wiring and back office electronics, too.

Since Prairie Ridge will not be covered by the bond issue updates, we are doing all of the work there this summer.  We’ll be updating wiring, back office electronics, and putting in more and new wireless access points  When we are done, this setup will be a lot like what we have at our 1:1 buildings and Prairie Hill.

Staff Laptop Refresh

As I have shared earlier, we will be updating 25% or our staff laptop fleet, too.   We devote six full days to this process this summer.

Back Office updates

This summer there are also significant number of back office projects.  Things that impact everyone, but if we do them well, no one notices.  I won’t go into too much detail on these, but it is good for everyone to know some of the other “irons in the fire.”

  • Content Filter Work — We will either update the iBoss hardware to better serve students — particularly those using Chromebooks at home or we will be switching to a new content filter.  I’ve been looking at several filter products this spring.  If we do switch, it will would be to Securly.  I really like the feature set I’ve seen in demonstrations.  However,  since this type of product hits everyone on campus, we are going to run a full-onsite demo this week.  If this demo goes well, I will be sharing much more on features and procedures.  If we elect to stick with iBoss, there will be some work for the technology team, but aside from better performance, no one should notice anything different.
  • Redundant Storage Gear —  We are looking to setup a redundant version of our server storage at Prairie Point.  This project would allow us to get back up if there were major issue (like a fire or water damage) in the current server room.
  • New MDM software — This project is a bit like the content filter.  We really need to use a mobile device manager (MDM) for iPads now.  We currently use an MDM to manage our student Macbook fleet.  Managing iPads with an MDM will allow us (along with new features Apple is providing) to streamline and simplify the process of purchasing apps.  We are examining using a different MDM solution than we currently have.   This means a lot of new learning for the techs.  Even if we elect to stay with our current MDM, we will still need to manually touch nearly all iPads in the district to load the MDM software onto them.  We plan to spend most of June on this project.
  • Decomissioning PrairiePride.org email.  As discussed earlier, we will be stopping email delivery to all PrairiePride.org email addresses on 7/1/16.  I wish this was as simple as turning off a computer, but there are a lot of interdependencies that we need to reroute or eliminate before we stop email forwarding to PrairiePride.org email.  
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