Tech Updates

November 2018

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A Timeless Reminder...


Here it comes again...

And that means that at least once a week we will get a ticket about a laptop left in a car overnight, and now the battery has gone down to zero percent (because lithium ion and cold are a bad combination), and the clock is wrong, which means the device will not connect to our network.

So, try not to let that happen. But if it does, check out these notes on fixing the date and time on a MacBook.

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Printer Update

New printers are almost here!


Here are some helpful Tech Tools articles that review things to know about the new printer - copier - scanner - fax units that are currently being deployed to the buildings. We are still finishing this documentation and may add more as needed.

Additional info

Universal Print Queue

These devices use a universal print queue. That means that any job sent to SabersPrint can be released from any of these printers once you log in. It also means that if you travel between buildings, you only need to install it once.

Canon versus HP print cost per page

Our current contract with Loffler uses a standard rate of .0094 cents per black/white print, and .069 cents per page for color print. That's 94 cents per 100 b/w pages and $6.90 per 100 color pages. This rate will remain in place for all of the HP devices.

The new Canon models will use a rate of .0074 cents per black/white print, and .0504 cents per page for color print. That's 74 cents per 100 b/w pages and $5.04 per 100 color pages.

It should also be noted that our per-page print costs have steadily decreased over the past year and a half, in the time since Businessware (our print services vendor for a long time) was bought out by Marco, followed by our switch to Loffler this past summer. While we strive to reduce printing as much as possible, we also recognize that it is a necessary function and will continue to look for ways to reduce costs and increase efficiency in this area.

Equipment Costs

Many of the devices we are swapping out were due to be replaced soon. The overall cost for the new hardware is $165,000 spread out over 5 years. This is comparable to what we would have spent to replace machines a few at a time, with the benefit of being able to standardize the fleet. The less variation we have in equipment the easier it is to train everyone to use it, to ensure that we have a back-up device with the same functionality at each site, and to enact a more consistent replacement cycle for our fleet.

One More Thing

These are not a replacement for Central Duplicating services. Any large job should continue to go there, as they use production-level machines that can handle the load and are even more cost-effective.

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Mi-Fi Hotspot Notes

There have been some questions coming to tech lately about the wireless hotspot program for students. Let's clear up any misconceptions for everyone's benefit.

Wireless hotspots are available for students using a 1:1 device outside of school (in other words, 6th-12th grade students).

How does a student qualify for a hotspot? Primarily through nomination from a building administrator, guidance counselor, equity staff, or cultural liaison. The reason for this is that we have an expectation that these are the staff who would interact with students at a level where they can identify the need for a hotspot based on that student's specific situation or reality outside of school. In other words, there is not a means test or some type of data point that is used.

We currently deploy about 70 hotspots. The district covers the cost of those ($35/month each), though this cost was defrayed for a while through a state grant that was recently exhausted. Specifically, we received a grant of $34,574 to be used between October 2016-June 2019. It is not yet known if the state will renew that grant or offer it again.

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Filtering Updates & Philosophy

Website content filtering for the district is handled by a service called Securly.

Recently, some updates to how Securly handles website traffic created some confusion for staff. Essentially, they fixed some things in order to more accurately apply the filter to users. A consequence of this is that filtering became more consistent regardless of whether you are at work or at home.

I think it's useful to understand the philosophy behind filtering. First, no filter is 100% effective. The Internet is simply too large a space to properly catalogue every site out there. So, right from the start we need to keep that in mind, but that is also why we have a system that allows teachers to open sites temporarily and to request that they be permanently allowed. Next, please know that we are only blocking the most obvious categories due to either content (such as porn) or potential for malicious intent. In other words, the filter has as much to do with security as content.

While we do block some additional categories for younger students, the experience for a high school age student is not much different than it is for staff.

We also support additional filtering levels (what we call "no social media" and "aggressive") for those students who have demonstrated poor behavioral choices when it comes to Internet use.

This brings us to another point. Filtering is a limited tool for controlling student behavior. For every request we get to block a gaming site or chat app or whatever seems to be the flavor of the week, there are a dozen more sites out there that will be next in line as a distraction for students. We call it "whack-a-mole", and it is ultimately a futile endeavor. We can question whether we are doing enough to encourage digital citizenship, and we would be right to do so. Ultimately, how anyone chooses to use technology is a behavior, and should be treated as such. For instance, any discussion of positive behavior supports should include how students choose to demonstrate respect, responsibility, and giving their best effort when it comes to technology use. Doing so reinforces the embedded nature of our technology tools in the classroom, rather than segmenting devices off as separate and therefore subject to a different set of rules and expectations.

Circling back - filtering will never be perfect, and we always welcome feedback and suggestions. We also continue to push our current vendor for improvements and will be researching alternatives as part of our normal review cycle for this type of application.

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CoLD Updates

Additional Info about Connected Learning Days has been posted on-line.

This includes a link to all of the K-5 SABERS boards, and we are also adding Newcomer boards and other "specialty" boards as they are created.

During the October 17 training, we collected some questions about this initiative. Those questions and answers can be found here: CoLD professional development - Parking Lot Q&A.