Monday, April 25, 2011

I was, to say the least, a bit surprised.

During an after school faculty meeting today I was pleasantly happy to see our principal, @HixsonPrincipal , using our internally built School Center website dubbed "The Hixson Network". The gist of network is to provide a single point for teachers to have access to everything they need ranging from PD, the principals notes, documents, referral information, email, sub finder, etc. I digress, as this post is not about the network...

As it was, the principal was actively using it during the meeting when a teacher asked a question regarding a technical question on access to the network:

"Is there a way to set it so that I do not have to type my login information every time?"

To our principals credit, he replied back "I just click the remember me on this computer button and then I do not have to re enter it"

They replied "That doesn't work"

Here is where my surprise entered the picture.

I have not been to a faculty meeting all school year, the first one I attend and a teacher is asking for technical advice, to which I shared: "Use fire fox"

I knew this to be the immediate fix, as I just recently had a technology request come in with this issue on it. Field tested and Tech Spec approved solution

Then it happened, at least 3-4 other teachers all agreed that this solution did not solve their problem.

I sat there, not shocked but upset, that teachers have been experienceing this issue for I do not know how long and not a single one had reported the issue. This is the soul purpose of the technology request system.

I brushed it off and jokingly responded to the crowd "Put in a tech req"

I do hope the teachers who have experienced this issue enter in the request to have the issue re examined, in the mean time I have tested it multiple times on different computers and found the issue to only happen in IE and could not duplicate the issue within FireFox.

Monday, April 18, 2011


For the past 4 years I have worked to stream line and maximize total efficiency of the tech department at our school. Each year we have grown closer as a team, worked to identify each others strengths and weaknesses and become a true team when it comes to supporting the teachers in all their technological endeavors as well as helping them to grow more and more comfortable with technology.

In order to help them grow comfortable with technology they first had to feel a sense of stability and trust that the tech department would be there for them when ever they needed it.

Year 1 I introduced the Technology Request system to them. This system was not my own idea, it was implemented by the district as a way to manage technology issues that were being had in the district and in buildings. Teacher would fill out an online form and submit it, and it would then go to the building tech who would then prioritize the request and tend to it. As it was, my predecessor chose not to use this system. So when I introduced it and had my first
"customer" their first response when I showed up to their room, after receiving the request, was "I just put the technology request in, and now you're here to fix he problem?" To which I replied "yes, that's how it works"

Year 2 the technology request system got an upgrade and we began to implement the full version of the "Monthly maintenance plan" We began it my first year but we were able to fully provide month to month updates, cleanings, data backup, software installs, etc the second year. Simply put, the monthly maintenance plan is a method to ensure the livelihood of the technology in the building. With proper up keep of the equipment you increase the longevity of it's usefulness. The monthly maintenance schedule would be posted via email and teachers could respond if the time slotted for them was in conflict with their schedule.

Year 3 we completed the digitization of every piece of technological equipment that was in the building and entered it into our libraries data management system which allowed us to check out equipment with precision and locate the equipment at a moments notice. The huge benefit of this was that when a technology request would come in for a piece of equipment we could locate who had it and then retrieve it from them to check out to the next person. No longer were teachers having to hunt down who had the equipment they needed or if the equipment even existed in the building. They simply sent a technology request for the equipment and if we had it we would notify them and then either bring the equipment to them, if it was available, or we would let them know when it would become available and then bring it to them.

Year 4, was our year to receive an enormous amount of computers for our school. This year we introduced Microsoft live, and with it, a direct line of communication to the technology department, with the simple use of instant messenger. With this tool and the aide of my personal iPhone I have become instantly reachable, where in the past the only way to directly communicate with me was if I happen to be at my desk ( a rare occurrence) and answer my phone should someone happen to call. Now, with all the previous installments each year of new methods to streamline the tech department we are hoping to jump into the future of technology support with the simple implementation of three devices.

iPad 2, one for each member of the technology department.

With these devices we will be able to create a direct line to each other as we move independently around the building to tend to technology requests. It also puts the technology request system in each of our hands, this way when we go to work on one technology request, we can close it after completion and then check the system to see if any new technology request have come in, in the area we are at. By using Ping Chat we can let each other know which request we are working on and where we are headed to next to prevent doubling up on a single request.

With Face time, we now have the direct access to each others knowledge base. When one of the three of us comes across a technical problem that we can not repair ourselves, we can simply use face time to show one another what we are seeing, and then walk the other through what to do to repair the issue. This will severely decrease the down time that occurs now, when one of us must bring the equipment "in" to be looked at by another.

Lastly, using IM+ and MSN instant messaging we now have a method for teachers to contact us immediately when they have a technological issue in their class that is directly affecting student learning or teachers teaching.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Team Tech Tuesday

Yesterday I met with a team for our first  regularly scheduled technology focused meeting.

This came about after the initiation of Web Wednesday 2.0, a time that I was offering every other Wednesday every month to give teachers an opportunity to work together on their websites. This was an original creation of our district web master, @Webgrrrl, who offered summer sessions every Wednesday to those who signed up.

Web Wednesday quickly morphed into not only working on teacher websites, but anything that had to do with the web 2.0 tools (Edmodo, live, blogging, twitter, etc.) Unfortunately some of our teams were unable to meet with me on Wednesdays due to other regularly scheduled meetings during those days. One team in particular asked if they would be able to setup a time once a month to meet to work on their sites with me, and ask other technical questions.  My only request was that they send me their questions or the content of what they wanted to work on during that time before hand so that I could come best prepared to assist and develop with them.

They sent me their questions and added to the list and modified as time went on until we got to the day, and this Tuesday we met and I answered questions, assured with technical help, and used the time to find out what was working and not working for them in their classes so that I could better the support we give and manage the equipment and services that we offer.

The time was well spent and I was able to get feedback on technology tools they were using in the classroom, talk about possibilities of growth and development of the tools they were using, learn what was working and what was not working and troubleshoot through the problems together to strengthen their integration of technology in their classes. I very much look forward to our next meeting and the possibility of adding more regularly scheduled meetings with teams in regards to technology development in their class rooms.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Shared article: 21 things that will be obsolete by 2020

Ok, so this is another trick answer. More subtly put: IT Departments as we currently know them. Cloud computing and a decade’s worth of increased wifi and satellite access will make some of the traditional roles of IT — software, security, and connectivity — a thing of the past. What will IT professionals do with all their free time? Innovate. Look to tech departments to instigate real change in the function of schools over the next twenty years."

A special thanks to @EthanMead for sharing this interesting article on what one person thinks what the educational system will be morphing into in the near future.  I particularly found great interest in number 11 as it is in my field and right where I am and have been in the past 4 -5 years of providing a "different kind of tech support"

Above is an excerpt from the article, if you are interested in the full article, here you go.