Monday, May 24, 2010

Solving a teaching problem

I found a website from Carnegie Mellon University's Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence that helps teachers (not just new teachers) through common problems they're facing with their class and then gives them suggestions to fix it.  Are your students late for class?  Here's some possible causes of that problem as well as some advice on how to curtail it.  It was an interesting approach.  I thought I'd share it with all of you. 

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

Friday, May 14, 2010

Protect yourself by using privacy settings on Facebook

Safety and privacy are big concerns for anyone who uses the Internet regardless of their age.  The more information you post on the Internet, the more likely it is someone will be able to piece that information together and figure out where you live, when you're going on vacation, or where your kids go to school.  Yet despite all we know about keeping our information private, many people break those rules when they are on a social site such as Facebook.

I've included two short articles on how to protect yourself when you're suing social networking sites such as Facebook or MySpace. One is an article about overall things to avoid when using social sites, and then another article with tips on how to keep using Facebook but avoid getting into trouble at work for the things you post.  Both are worth reading.