Technology Annual Report

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

ITEC Session Resources: Right-Sizing Technology Staffing (October, 2017)

Check out the resources below for my ITEC session on right-sizing technology staffing, presented jointly with Superintendent Greg Dufoe of the ADM Community School District.  

Presentation Slides

http://bit.ly/2xKmJ8h

End-User Support Staffing Formula for Iowa Schools

http://bit.ly/2yuPSYU

 

Temporary Internet Outage

There will be a short internet outage tomorrow morning, October 12th, at 6:00 AM for maintenance. The outage should last around ten minutes.

Password Resets and Policy Development

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.  

SMART Notebook License Notification

We’ve had a number of teachers contact us in recent days because of a message being displayed by SMART Notebook that our software license would soon expire. 

The software maintenance license was renewed, and our testing indicates that machines should now be getting the current license information; as soon as this happens, the expiration message should no longer appear.  If your SMART Notebook installation is still giving this message, please reboot your computer, ensure that you are connected to the internet after restarting, and then launch SMART Notebook again.  

As a point of clarification, this license renewal will not affect the software installed on district computers, and does not require that software be reinstalled or replaced.  

Update: Internet Upgrade Delayed

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. 

What happened?

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.  

Internet Service Upgrade 9/27/17

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: 

Continue reading Internet Service Upgrade 9/27/17

Maximizing Internet/Network Performance

While we’ve taken many steps to expand our network access and performance over the past few months, the reality is that all networks face hard limits in terms of the amount of data that can be moved at once.  

In order to ensure that teachers and students are able to maximize internet and network performance, here are a few useful tips: Continue reading Maximizing Internet/Network Performance

Network Outage Late Afternoon (Hills, Weber, Transitions)

Due to an emergency router replacement, the wired and wireless networks at Hills, Transitions, and Weber will experience outages today beginning at 5:00 PM.  This will impact ability to use the internet, access network resources, connect to the ICCSD wireless network, and use phones from those buildings. 

We expect that the outage will last for approximately one hour.  We appreciate your patience as we undertake this work.