The district recently distributed a survey regarding educational technologies to parents district-wide, and one parent reached out with questions regarding where they could get more information about our technology programs. This, combined with the fact that we recently published our 100th article and have been going strong for just over one year, leads me to conclude that it’s about time to reintroduce the Iowa City Schools’ Technology & Innovation blog!
Taking a cue from a number of teachers here in the Iowa City Schools, I’m now offering the ability to subscribe to receive text message updates when new blog entries are posted. This is separate from the email subscription option that has long been available, and will hopefully be appealing to those of you who prefer to use your phone / texting as a primary means of getting information.
In order to subscribe, just click this link: https://www.remind.com/join/h8bh9k
This service is being provided via Remind.com, which many of our teachers, students, and parents are already using for messaging. You have the option of unsubscribing at any time by replying with @LEAVE to any of the texts.
I’ll be excited to see whether this service is useful to those of you who follow the blog!
While I’m amazed that we’re already nearing the turn of the calendar to second trimester, I received a question today that reminded me that I needed to get some information to ICCSD teachers and students regarding what to expect. Specifically, what happens to Canvas courses at the end of the first Trimester?
A: All teachers and students will continue to have access to Tri 1 courses – whether they are yearlong courses or single-trimester courses – until midnight on June 30th, 2018. This will allow teachers to work on grading, students to reference previously-submitted work and materials, and so forth.
Since the courses will no longer be current, their status will change to “Past Enrollment” and won’t appear – by default – on students’ and teachers’ dashboards. Instead, users will need to click the “Courses” button on the left side of Canvas, and then “All Courses” to show both past and current enrollments. This area will also show teachers their future courses.
If you’ve read about Canvas, you may be aware that this is not the default behavior; we modified the access end dates to ensure that students and teachers can seamlessly use and reference previous course content until the end of the year.
Our internet service upgrade – scheduled for last night – has been delayed until next week after we encountered an unexpected problem. We do not have a specific date/time for the next upgrade window, but I’ll post that here as soon as we’ve completed a conference call with the involved parties.
At 5:00 PM, ICCSD network administrators, working with Iowa Communications Network (ICN) and Lightedge Solutions engineers, switched our internet connection from our current 1Gb ICN connection to the new 3Gb ICN connection. A component of this switch also includes moving from our current internally-managed Palo Alto firewall to a Lightedge-managed Fortinet firewall; staying on our existing Palo Alto hardware is not an option, as it cannot handle the 3Gb throughput required for the new connection.
The internet connection worked properly, as did all but one of the mission critical services that we had previously identified as potential points of failure during the internet service upgrade. One service, however – a VPN tunnel to a particular site – was not successfully brought online after implementation of the new firewall. We attempted troubleshooting until the close of our announced upgrade window, but with no success were forced to revert to the previous settings and service.
What should I expect moving forward?
As previously mentioned, we’ll be rescheduling the upgrade window as soon as possible, likely for next week. We’ve already identified the steps necessary to solve the issue with the site that didn’t come up, and now need to coordinate availability on the part of ICN and Lightedge. I’ll post a specific date/time as soon as we have one.
Since the upgrade was not successful, I expect that internet performance issues will continue for the coming (approximately) week. Our network administrators have been tuning quality-of-service settings over the past couple of weeks in order to prioritize critical or interruption-intolerant traffic, and will continue to do so in order to make the most of the 1Gb service we currently have.
As mentioned in my previous post on this topic, we expect all internet performance problems to be immediately resolved following the successful upgrade to 3Gb service. We appreciate your patience as we work through this process.
UPDATE: This upgrade was unsuccessful (details here); we’ll be rescheduling the upgrade for next week.
Tonight is a big night for our internet service in the Iowa City Schools; a long-planned upgrade will take place beginning at 5:00 PM (on September 27th) that will expand our service from 1Gb bandwidth to 3Gb. Here’s what you need to know:
Make sure to get out and VOTE today (Tuesday, September 12th) for school elections in the Iowa City Community School District! Today, there are a number of school board seats on the ballot, along with the district’s G.O. Bond for school infrastructure projects. Polls are open from 7 AM until 8 PM.
You can use this map-based polling place lookup to look up your school polling place based upon your address: https://gis.johnson-county.com/schoolpollingplaces/
Note: school polling places may differ from your general election polling place!
In order to complete necessary maintenance related to a problem impacting Hills Elementary, network service – including internet, internal network services, and phone service – will be briefly disrupted today at 5:00 PM. This issue will impact Hills Elementary, Weber Elementary, and Transitions.
We expect that this outage will last between 5 and 10 minutes.
To support our secondary 1:1 Chromebook initiative, the Iowa City Schools have launched our Citrix virtual application service, which allows students and teachers to run Windows software on a Chromebook.
As part of a planned system upgrade, the ICCSD internet connection will briefly be offline at 5:00 PM on Monday, August 28th. We expect this outage to last for a short time, but there is the possibility that outages will continue either continuously or sporadically for up to one hour.
We do not expect any downtime after 6:00 PM on August 28th. As always, we appreciate your patience as we work to improve our network infrastructure and performance.
ICCSD teachers learning about Canvas should check out the following resources:
- Technology & Innovation Blog Canvas Resource Page
- Canvas LMS Presentation Handout (from August 17th, 2017)
Additional resources will be added to the Canvas Resource page listed above as they become available.