As the academic calendar brings us to the end of first trimester, I thought it would be useful to provide a recap of the work we’ve been doing in the Office of Technology & Innovation (OTI) during the first third of the year. While it’s not the case that we’ve made it back to “normal”, OTI staff have welcomed the return of some elements of normality this school year, while continuing to address the pandemic-related challenges that we still face.
Day-to-Day Technology Support
While I often start articles like this with recaps of our large-scale projects, the most important area through which we can impact the experiences of our students and staff is general technology support. As of this week, our team has addressed just over 8,500 support tickets since the start of the school year, and has responded to just under 20,000 support requests through all channels during that time.
Despite those high numbers, we currently have fewer than 100 tickets that still await resolution, reflecting a significant improvement in our ticket response and resolution times. While our response target is 24 hours, our median ticket response time this year has been 1 hour, 53 minutes. In terms of resolution, we aim to resolve tickets within 96 hours of submission, and have met that goal with a median ticket resolution time so far this year of 23 hours, 10 minutes. These are the best support response numbers we’ve had over the past five years, despite support request numbers being higher than any year other than the 2020-2021 school year, which saw exceptionally high ticket numbers due to the district’s reliance upon remote learning.
Our team has been working full-steam since the start of the pandemic in March of 2020, and I’m exceptionally proud of the work that we’ve done to not only stay above water in the face of unprecedented challenges and workload, but indeed to streamline our processes and procedures to generate the best response numbers we’ve ever seen. Kudos go to our entire client services team, who have borne the brunt of this challenge, along with staff throughout our other teams who have addressed needs related to remote learning and internet access, mid-year student and staff scheduling transitions and associated data reporting challenges, and situations where we’ve needed to assess, configure, and deploy secure systems with very little notice.
What’s even more exciting about our work in this area is that our technology support staff continue to talk about ways we can improve, both in terms of policies and procedures within the department and in terms of our communications and interactions with our staff, students, and families. We’re at the very start of a focus on systematic review of multiple aspects of our tech support process, which we hope will support continued improvement of the quality and responsiveness of our service.
Large Projects this Summer and Fall
Student Information System Transition: Infinite Campus
OTI staff have been involved with a handful of large-scale projects so far this year, but none more sizable than our student information system transition from PowerSchool to Infinite Campus. This project began in January of 2021, and has since involved over one hundred separate training sessions with ICCSD faculty and staff, and easily thousands of hours of work on the part of our data team, including Student Data Specialist Kristi Storey, Data Analyst Austin Wells, Data Systems Specialist Matt Haxton, and others throughout our team and in other departments. Through the data cleaning, data transition, implementation, systems integration, and training tasks related to this implementation, our team has worked hard to stay on schedule as it relates to the implementation schedule we developed in January. While there have been bumps in the road, as there are with any major system transition, we’ve met all of our goals in terms of feature implementation dates, and at this point are fully transitioned to Infinite Campus as our student information system.
Full-Scale Device Refresh
In addition to our student information system transition, which just about anyone involved in educational technology provision will tell you is generally an all-consuming project, we also engaged in a full-scale refresh of the district’s computing hardware. All student and staff devices were replaced between spring and fall of 2021, including over 15,000 student Chromebooks, over 2,000 staff devices, and well over 1,000 classroom or lab-assigned computers within our schools. This project included replacement of student devices just prior to the end of the school year in the spring, and replacement of staff devices and school-assigned devices during the summer and fall. We have largely completed this process, and did so in a way that minimized per-unit purchase and support costs, maximized return in terms of the sale of old district technology, and will substantially reduce pressures on future budgets and allow for an increased focus on Facilities Master Plan 2.0 priorities.
Rostering, Systems Integration, and Data Analytics
While this is closely related to our student information system implementation, I think it’s important to call attention to the tremendous effort that has gone into a project that we hope will yield substantial benefits for the district as we move forward. One of the challenges in terms of migrating from one student information system to another is that many other platforms – assessment platforms, directory and authentication services, and curricular resources such as online textbooks, for example – are manageable in a large-district because the process of pulling student information and assigning resources based upon students’ and staff members’ course assignments are automated.
While one advantage to Infinite Campus is that it gives us the ability to better integrate many of the system we use, we were still in a position to build or rebuild integrations across dozens of systems, and to ensure that those integrations are accurate and secure. At this point, our rostering and data transfer implementations are complete, and we’re shifting our focus to implementation and use of Tableau, which connects to data in Infinite Campus and other platforms to allow for development of data dashboards and reports. This data is delivered in nearly real-time, and is formatted in ways to specifically address the needs of our school leaders, our teachers’ PLC groups, and district leaders as they work to identify optimal instructional approaches and interventions for students, address schools’ progress towards our annual improvement plans, and address progress towards the district’s equity goals.