Friday, May 21, 2010

Upcoming technology improvements

Dear Staff Member:

Next year District 211 will focus our efforts on improving your overall experience with technology.  In the coming summer months, we plan to implement six major improvements that will make your computer more reliable, your connection to the Internet faster and more stable, and your communication with students and parents more efficient. 

·    First, the wireless network is going to be completely overhauled.  Each school's wireless infrastructure will be expanded and improved to hold approximately 6,000 devices, which is four times more than the current system allows and enough capacity for every person to have two devices connected at all times.  Connections to the wireless network should be stronger and less likely to be lost and classrooms using laptop carts should expect faster boot times and far fewer issues connecting to network drives. 

·    Second, the Internet bandwidth will be quadrupled.  Streaming media will be expected to play smoothly, and large classes doing research will be able to maintain a more stable and faster connection. 

·    Third, as a result of a better wireless structure and greater Internet capacity, people will again have full access to the guest211 network as they have had in the past.  Students will be able to use any personal electronic device, including computers and cell phones, within the guidelines of District policy, to connect to the Internet inside our schools. 

·    Fourth, we will replace Windows XP with Windows 7.  This new operating system boots faster, has better wireless capabilities and is more stable than Windows XP.  Numerous staff members throughout the District have already been successful using Windows 7 and the transition has been smooth for them.

·    Fifth, we will replace Lotus Notes with Outlook as our e-mail, calendar, and messaging system.  Outlook offers a greater number of integrated communication features, is more compatible with your personal computers and is easily accessible on your cell phones.  We will make sure everyone has access to the training they need to use this convenient, easily accessible communication program.  Our ongoing discussions with Microsoft and our examination of similar transitions from other districts all indicate that all e-mail, data, files, folders and calendar entries accumulated in Lotus Notes have been successfully and completely migrated to Outlook.  More information about this will be provided in the near future.

·    Sixth, every student will be given a designated District e-mail account.  You will have the ability to e-mail your students, create student e-mail groups, and send out calendar reminders regarding tests, homework, practices, games and club meetings.

These six areas were chosen based on the extensive information collected from teachers, students, parents and administrators over the last few months, and they will have a positive impact on the way we use technology to advance student learning and achievement.

We will send regular updates over the next month to keep you informed of our progress and to explain opportunities for training.  In the meantime, please send us any comments or questions you might have.

Keith Sorensen  
Director of Educational Technology 

Charlie Peterson
Director of Technology Services

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