As I’ve written and emailed out to staff members, we’ll be upgrading all district-issued, staff-assigned computers in May (for laptops) and this summer (for desktops). In addition to providing new laptops and desktops, we’ll also be providing laptop users with a limited choose-your-own-device (CYOD) option, which will provide staff members with the choice between a conventional Windows laptop (Dell Latitude 5480) and a convertible Windows laptop/tablet (Dell Latitude 5289).
While my emails and posts above have probably answered many of the questions you might have, I’ve received a number of questions from staff members since these announcements were released. To benefit a larger audience, I’m including many of those questions and answers below: Q: I know that we’ll have a choice between a regular laptop and a convertible tablet; will I have the chance to see these devices?
A: Yes, we are bringing the laptops to each building so that staff members can check them out firsthand. It’s likely that your librarian and/or principal has already shared this information with your building, but full details of our demo schedule are available here.
Q: How will I make a selection?
A: You’ll respond to this form to indicate which computer you’d like to be issued (or to indicate that you have no preference). The deadline for this form will not be until May 3rd, which is after all of the aforementioned demo visits have been completed.
Q: Which computers will be replaced?
A: All district-issued computers that are assigned to staff members will be replaced, including laptops and desktops (NOTE: computers assigned to paraeducators and nutrition staff will be upgraded at a later date; this is due to the complexity of our current paraeducator computer deployment model). Computers in use by staff but not assigned specifically to staff members (such as building flexible-use machines assigned at the building level) will not be upgraded as part of this process, but will be replaced at a later time per the building technology refresh cycle.
Q: How will I backup my files?
A: The technology & innovation department is strongly recommending the use of the Google Drive application to back up all of your files to Google Drive. Once there, the application can be used on your new computer to automatically download those files to your new computer. Detailed instructions are available here.
Q: How can we afford this device refresh?
A: The district is planning to lease the devices on a four-year term, which matches the expected lifespan of the devices. Employing a lease for a single-cycle upgrade allows us to eliminate more 5-year old and 6-year old devices that require disproportionate levels of support, reduces the number of staff models that we’ll support from 23 (current) to 3, and balances our spending requirements to allow for better financial management. For more information about how we’ve been cutting costs and seeking funding sources, check out this blog post.
Q: Can staff members buy their old computers?
A: Unfortunately, older computers will not be available for purchase by staff members, nor will staff members be able to continue using their old computers. We will continue to use many of the computers that we receive back from staff members (to support upgrades of student-accessible devices in buildings that are not yet on the full-refresh cycle), while the oldest computers will be sold back to the vendor after a competitive bidding process. Due to state law, we can only sell district property through a publicly-advertised bid process, and as such we do not have a mechanism to allow staff or students to purchase district computers.
Q: Should I still come even if I’m retiring at the end of the year?
A: No, retiring and otherwise-departing staff do not need to complete the computer upgrade in May. That said, you can choose to still complete the upgrade if you are in one of these groups. Your decision will have no impact on the computer your replacement will receive.
Q: I will be out of town during the distribution days. Is there any way I have another staff member pick up both her new computer and mine as well?
A: This will be fine, provided that she’s able to bring in your current laptop for turn in as well. If this won’t be possible – if you’ll need to have your current laptop with you, for instance – we’ll need to schedule another date for your upgrade. One thing to note is that after you receive your new laptop, your first login will need to be at school, as the initial login won’t work off-campus.
Q: I just got a new Dell a few months ago. Do I have to switch again?
A: Yes, this upgrade includes all district-issued laptops. Sorry for the multiple upgrades in a short span; as we standardize all staff computers to these two models, we have a handful of people who are in your situation. (Additional Note: newer laptops will be redeployed in the district to replace older computers in buildings that are not yet on the full-building upgrade cycle.)
Q: Can staff members still access their district server file after the upgrade?
A: Yes, the server file folder will still be available after the upgrade.
Q: I have Finale Music Software on my school computer currently. It’s a picky program with access codes and such to verify purchase, do I need to do anything special for the laptop exchange?
A: Yep. Somewhere buried in those emails is a note that we’ll be contacting industrial tech and music teachers, specifically, to arrange upgrade times with you so that we can go through the Finale install process (and Autodesk for Ind. Tech) after you log in. You should receive an email in the coming week or so with details about that process.
Q: I currently work at Coralville Central ES. I will be transferring to North Central Junior High next year. Is there anything special I need to do since I’ll be at a new building next year? For example, would I attend Coralville Central’s upgrade date? Would I bring my upgraded Central laptop to North Central when I transfer? Let me know any helpful details. Thanks!
A: You shouldn’t have to do anything special. Come to the upgrade date for Coralville Central, and when you switch to NCJH this summer, you’ll just take your laptop with you. One of the reasons we wanted to standardize our staff deployment is so that we won’t have to worry about issuing different laptops to staff members as building assignments change.