Friday, May 1, 2015

Technology taking a step backwards

I digress from my regular technology meeting minute notes in this blog to highlight an important change happening in Winston-Salem Schools.

At Thursday's (4/30) Technology Facilitator's meeting, Kevin Sherrill, our assistant superintendent for technology announced that he would be talking to principals on Tuesday, May 5th about the future of the technology facilitator position. Kevin was not able to relay the message to us yet, but it was clear that the program started in elementary schools this year was going to move into the much larger Middle and High Schools for next year.  

In elementary schools a classified position was created that was supposed to serve as a half time testing coordinator and half time technology facilitator.  From the comments made by elementary folks at the meeting, that position is clearly not working as it was intended.

The Problem:  Robbing Peter to Pay Paul

A problem was identified in the school district a couple of years ago.  With all the state mandated testing and the new common core testing, curriculum coordinators were spending upwards of 80% of their time doing testing and not providing adequate curriculum support to teachers.  The proposed solution was to create a full-time classified (employee who is paid hourly and not certified) to do half time testing and half time technology support. This was a great idea for the curriculum coordinators who are definitely needed to provide instructional support to teachers, but a bad idea for technology support.

Why is a new position going to make a mess for technology?

The short answer is:  "how can we say a position will be 50% testing and 50% technology support if the problem was that curriculum coordinators were spending 80% of their time doing testing?"  The numbers don't add up!  If testing was said to be taking 80% of the curriculum job, that will only leave ~20% of the time for technology support, not 50/50 as advertised.

And the reports from elementary schools this year back-up this assertion.  Reports are that the new position people are spending most of their time doing testing and little time providing technology support. We heard several people at our meeting speak up and attest to this situation at the elementary schools. 

The problem will likely be even more pronounced at the larger Middle And High schools for next year if the plan continues as is. Prior to this new situation, many Middle and High Schools had already identified technology support as a basic need for teachers and students.  These are schools with well over a 1000 students and often thousands of devices--computers, laptops, tablets, I-pads and other technology equipment.  The need is for an on-site technical and instructional technology support person to maintain that equipment but also provide instructional support to assist teachers and students in using the technology tools.  

What many of those large Middle and High schools did was use money that was allocated through special funds from the district called Theme Money and the schools used that money to support the full time technology position that was clearly needed.  It's the Theme Money that is being taken away (robbed from Peter) to pay for this new classified testing/technology position (to pay Paul)

What will be some of the  Effects of this change?

An example is Southeast Middle School where I am a full-time certified technology facilitator with a Master's Degree in instructional technology.  I could take the ( half time but in reality almost full-time) testing job.  But, I would no longer be able to provide the daily, on-site and timely help to over 75 teachers and over 1200 students as I do now.  

The following are some example from just today:  A students' laptop in a class stopped working and I was able to assist them in getting it back online and working;  several students got locked out of their accounts and I unlocked them and they are able to get back to work right away;  a teacher wanted help with a new technology tool and I spent time helping them learn the new tool during their planning;  a classroom TV would not connect with the electronic device in the classroom (students were all waiting for it to display on the screen)  I assisted them and get the class back on track, A student can't print to a network printer and comes for help...the list goes on and on.  These are the types of daily problems that won't get addressed without an on-site person dedicated to the technology. 

Another effect is a loss of experience and expertise.  I have been a full-time technology facilitator now for 14 years.  I know the equipment, I know the tech tools, I know the teachers and students and the needs they have.  With that in mind, another option for me would be to go back and teach science in a regular classroom. In that scenario, I will spend my time learning a new curriculum and all that goes along with the responsibility of a classroom teacher.  The school looses that experience and expertise of many years of accumulated knowledge to an hourly employee who is less likely to have that invested interest in the profession and  less likely to go the extra mile.

Why has this happened?

The main reason is the trickle down effect of the continued lack of financial support from the state of North Carolina.  Year after year, budget cuts have cut into the daily operations of the schools.  It's getting down to bare bones now, and something has to give. In this case, the testing was chosen over technology support as the priority.  Is this what we really want for our students?

Back to my regularly scheduled meeting minute notes:

Tech Meeting April 30, 2015

Kevin Sherrill:

  • Next meeting, June 4th?
  • Stipend plan--Same as discussed before--only Tech Facilitators who do not have freed up time will get the stipend
  • Status of Middle and High School Tech Facilitators--Principals will be told on Tuesday --you can talk to your principals afterwards
  • Not everyone got a survey
  • Testing a full-time job?

AMTR & Joan Proffitt

  • NCID:  submit a ticket if you need an NCID id
  • Old vs new AMTR
  • Difference are notable:
    • Ticket is needed for activation of NCID
    • question 101—Pentium 4 and above—when Pentium is a “letter” instead of a “number”, it is  considered higher than IV
    • question 102 – last year Pentium 4 and below --Old think centers are 4 –102
    • question 109—now its Netbooks,  ipads, etc.
    • Audio-visuals are gone
    • Software is gone
    • Full solution questions are gone!
    • Make sure principals sign off on AMTR before they leave for summer!

Breakout sessions:  Adam


Let’s chat:

  • See presentation, but teachers will have to hit cntrl-alt-del:  and change password before trying to access their WSFCS google account.
  • Making a person make a copy of a document
  • Drawing in general is a tool that google offers that we have not really had access to

Sharepoint resources:

  • Available for students in the fall of 2015
  • Available for staff soon, just TF’s and pilot schools for now
  • still building support for it now
  • Heather Harmon: containing it now until training rolls out.  

Learning Management systems:

  • Haiku:
    • Forest Park has been piloting it
    • Has the ability to synch with power school
    • Teachers can create content, lessons,. etc.
    • Haiku syncs with google

Chris Corbin presentation:


  • Slow log-ins
    • machine related, policy related, network related?
    • re-image works and then problem starts in a couple of weeks again
    • They are piloting it  to test whether it is in the image.
    • They have moved machines around in containers to see if policy related
    • They have lots of control groups out there testing it
    • There are some policies out there since 2006 that might need to be removed or updated.
    • They have opened up some policies for students
    • He's not even considering Windows XP machines since they are just known to e slow --so he is discarding from the equation
    • it is a hodgepodge of machines that are doing this
    • Chris is determined to pinpoint the problem
    • 11-e laptops are  particularly a problem

endpoint protection:  
  • can be controlled though system center
  • It starts scanning if it misses the scheduled scan
  • Justin is working on stopping that
  • system center is not fully implemented

NCEDCLOUD Iam service:

  • its an authentication service for cloud based services
  • May 11th will start the process of claiming their accounts
  • WIll change on July 6th
  • for Homebase, true north logic or power school
  • All power School users will have to go to:
  • or
  • Teachers and students will have to "claim their accounts"
    • We will not start with students until the start of next year
    • 340 is district number you have to put in
  • May 11th starts the advertising campaign

System Center: New enterprise management system

  • retiring AICP
  • provides new ability to re-image machines
  • can be done over night
  • even rename and join to the domain
  • phased approach to rolling this out
  • Chris will want to know the number of windows XP machines you have
  • The new agent is being pushed out to machines
  • Summer--software deployment center setup
  • Machines not connected, don’t bother connecting them, don’t worry about the ones you don’t use

Storage Options:  

  • Nothing done with H drives this year.
  • looking for ways to map local drives to google drives or microsoft
  • They WILL  purge student home folders over the summer as usual during late July (when summer school ends)
  • Will be makes 2014-2015 folders (yearbook and K drive)  read only

IPAD/Airwatch updates

  • One fix proposed was doing a full reset to ipad and reconnecting to air watch
  • Jennifer talked to airwatch yesterday and Chris is calling them and coming onsite on Tuesday to decide what to do
  • on-premise airwatch solution?  
    • They would have a server on the data center vs a cloud based server
    • Will require resetting them and reconnecting to an on-premise device--they will send man power to reconnect
    • Before the end of the year, you will get a email from Chris asking ipads be put in a central location and can go out with the air watch guys

Other updates:  

  • System wide profile sweep on May 11th
  • e-rate filing has passed and going through approval
    • switches will be replaced at every school
    • all access points to 1 GB ports
    • all closets going back to 10 GB
    • Spagetti mess in the wiring closets will get cleaned up
    • all work will start over the summer and have a year to implement
    • v-lan will be segmented affecting printers --which will have to be reset in many cases
      • printers assigned through direct IP will have to be redone in those cases where the v-lan changed
    • Use google chrome for NCtest app
    • Way to deploy the chrome test app? AB tutor?
    • you will need to Install the NC on windows XP machines 
    • chrome web store and type NCtest

  • Kids listening to music via youtube (breaking RUA if going around filter)
  • Yahoo is still blocked--waiting on lightspeed for a code update to be able to implement safe search in yahoo and then they will open it back it up.

Carla Miller:

  • strategic tech guy:  Grady retired
    • Lynn Willimas a new technition
      • based out of Raleigh
      • out at schools generally on weds/thurs/fridaysWIll be doing some preventive maintenance things
      • A lot of tickets low toner
      • There is a difference between the low toner  message and it actually being out--(starting to print light)
      • toner thresholds:  will not ship until less than 12% left

  • problem--prices/part numbers sometimes change between ordering time and purchasing--Carla has to approve all those
  • Network copiers, new survey coming from Carla
  • Might need to start scanning timesheets to central office
  • As of Monday, technician staff will be back to full staff
  • Eff (zones7&8)?) and zack
  • Office 365 issue seen, setting up apps grayed out when teachers login
    • if you see it, shoot Justin an email
    • office 365 issues:  Internet explorer 9 vs 11 may fix it
  • onsite repair:  no problems reported
  • subs don’t know they have accounts, but will to a better job 
  • sub intent forms--domino based--have to login to MMC, so you might be getting questions from subs
  • dsa.msc (run command for bringing up MC hammer tool)
  • Justin has seen the double click vs single click issue
  • Stopping phone being read to computers? no sure there is a solution
  • Don’t stack the laptops--11e laptops!
    • some issue with Magnetism (screen goes light or dies)

Trac vs inventory

  • if you put in a ticket, he will wipe out and then let them login and compare the column with computer information to inventory
  • generic account for training videos access? 
  • let Jim know if you would like training videos
  • School net:  Final grades
    • skewed, assign assessments to all sections or specific sections vs specific users

August 11-12 --Collaborative learning conference Walkertown:

  • registration deadline:  curriculum coordinators, tech facilitators, teachers
Determining source of large print jobs?
  • Justin will have contacted
  • would need printer name and date/time range
  • strategic bill is a month behind so you sometimes don’t see the bills for a month and are not aware of a big problem

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