Along with many other school districts in Iowa, the Iowa City Community School District is working through a challenging budget situation for the coming fiscal year. After years of identifying opportunities for increased fiscal efficiency, there are few ways to further reduce costs without impacting service delivery and – ultimately – the classroom environment available to our children.
While I won’t address the District’s comprehensive efforts to address these challenges in this post, I do want to highlight some of the efforts we’ve made in the Office of Technology & Innovation. The past several years have been marked by significant technology-focused initiatives, including those focused on device availability and infrastructure, as well as initiatives such as our IDS Innovation team’s focus on instructional technology integration.
We have once again partnered with the University of Iowa to offer discounts for faculty and staff members who wish to purchase Apple computers and other Apple devices.
Receive up to $575 off of the regular retail price on select MacBook®, MacBook Pro®, MacBook Air®, iPad Pro®, iMac® models during our Apple Faculty and Staff Apple Appreciation Event April 25-26! Preorder online now through April 8th to be sure we have the model you want in stock.
No, no, no … you’ve gotta say it like, “data interoperability!”
Over the past several days, I’ve had the opportunity to spend time with district leaders from around the country as we learn together about a fantastically riveting topic: data interoperability! (see, I said it right)
So what is data interoperability?
In a nutshell, data interoperability relates to the ability of systems that create, store, or consume data to seamlessly talk to one another. Once the systems can speak to one another, data can be pulled – generally in real time – for analysis, regardless of what system the data originally resides in.
Check out the annual Educational Exchange episode focused on the Iowa City Schools’ Technology & Innovation programs. Some of the topics covered include recent and current technology projects, our recent program evaluation, and the district’s focus on technology integration support and STEM programming.
After a couple of false starts, we successfully completed an upgrade of our internet service through the Iowa Communications Network (ICN) just over a week ago. The most substantial impact of this change is that our internet bandwidth has been expanded from 1Gb to 3Gb, a critical improvement (more on that below).
Why was this upgrade necessary?
Once we completed the upgrade, issues we had been facing with internet performance almost immediately vanished. Prior to the upgrade, we were seeing our bandwidth max out immediately at the beginning of the school day, and it would remain that way until school was out for the day. This means that – at any given time – we had more demand for bandwidth than our service could accommodate, resulting in slow performance and intermittent drops / loading errors. You can see this in the chart at right, which shows our demand and usage prior to the upgrade. Continue reading Internet Service Upgrade Completed→
Each year, I provide a report to the board that provides a high-level view of our technology program, through the lens of particular projects completed, underway, or planned. This will certainly not be the most riveting content I’ve posted to the blog, but for those of you who are interested, I’m posting a summary of that report here.
The 2016-17 school year was one of transition in the Iowa City Community School District’s Office of Technology & Innovation. As we move into winter of 2017-18, we have completed a number of major projects and still have significant initiatives underway or in planning stages. Our departmental performance metrics have generally improved slightly, though I’m excited to see how our work in terms of specific initiatives and in targeted locations will manifest itself in the coming year’s technology program evaluation. Continue reading Technology Annual Report→
We experienced a number of issues yesterday morning with students being unexpectedly forced to change their passwords; we avoid this type of unanticipated password change requirement due to its clear, negative impacts on instruction. We believe that we have resolved this problem as of 10 AM yesterday morning, and have begun reviewing our policies to ensure that this does not occur again.
On a related note, we’ll be beginning work next week to update our password policy to ensure that we’re safeguarding our students and staff while making sure that accounts are accessible and easy to use. This work will be driven by newly released standards from the federal government’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST); you can read the full Digital Identity Guidelines here. For a nutshell version of some of the changes between the newly-released guidelines and previous recommendations, check out this article.
I’ll be posting more information as we move ahead with the process of updating our policy.
As Labor Day passes, we’re beginning the third week of the school year in Iowa City and really starting to roll towards 2018. While this time of year is always ridiculously busy for the Technology & Innovation office – it’s not uncommon in our district and others to see support requests come in at five to six times the normal rate during the first month or so of the school year – this year has been our craziest yet. Continue reading Progress is Messy!→