The new wireless Internet connection is live, and the teachers'
machines are all connected with the exception of the band room and
the library. There are also a few small bugs here and there
concerning a couple of individual devices, but that is to be
expected with such a large upgrade.
On the subject of upgrades,
there is expected to be an upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7 over
the summer. This is necessary because Windows XP does not support
all of the wireless options the school wishes to implement.
Kathy Stoyak explained the results of a survey she gave to her
students concerning the changes to the computers. Stoyak, who
teaches Spanish, said that while the students appreciate being able
to take tests online, they are a little frustrated by difficulties
accessing their work at home. "The website is a little picky when it
comes to grading," says Stoyak.
The students also expressed a desire for more time working with
the laptops overall and more time to practice with the new software.
"With practice, it [working with the software] got easier," says
Stoyak. She also said she looks forward to trying out other aspects
of the new software next fall that teachers and students were not
able to try out previously.
Jackie Meyer, a committee member and girls soccer coach at LCHS,
expressed a concern with the new security filter. The problem is the
new filter was blocking Meyer's blog because all blogs are blocked
by default, and Meyer works on her blog from time to time while
using school machines. This could present a problem for any staff
member who has a website outside of the school. Such a security
measure is in place to keep communication between teachers and
students restricted to official channels.
According to Sandra Bronson, committee member and computer
science teacher, one of the best features of this filter is the
ability to block students from certain websites, yet still allow
teachers to have access.
Aside from a few small issues with blocking certain websites, the
new security filter has been well received by the staff. The 90-day
trial of this filter is soon coming to an end, and the school will
have to choose whether or not to purchase the filter permanently.
LCHS recently received a grant from the Woods Foundation for
$20,000. Robert Bagby, committee member and superintendent of LCHS,
says the money will be used primarily for the purchasing of new
Smart Boards. "I sent the foundation a thank-you on behalf of LCHS
and all school districts, really," said Bagby.
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Barb Coffey, committee member and District 27 board member,
explained that District 27 is looking into a projector that
essentially turns a whiteboard into a Smart Board with special
software. District 27 has also been working with Kuno tablets. Kuno
is a company that works with schools to provide tablet devices to
students and teachers. The software included is very flexible in
what the teachers can give students access to.
The new LCHS website from Edline should be up in July, just as
the old website expires. Work on it will start in June. The school
year will start with a training session for the staff on how to use
the new website. An idea was brought up to try creating a tutorial
video for parents and teachers on how to work this new website.
During the summer, the tech committee would like to upgrade the
school computer server, as there is upgrade coming in October that
requires newer equipment. The upgrade will include the latest
version of Microsoft Office on the school computers, as well as
access to the program at home for teachers. "This is nice because we
don't have to buy Office 2010 for every single machine," says
Bronson. This is a cheaper alternative.
The auditorium will also be worked on this summer, specifically,
the lights and sound. That work follows a recent change in seating
in the auditorium.
A final concern was raised as to the efficiency of parent-teacher
conferences. While no new plans are set in stone, it was suggested
that LCHS try switching to a more open-house-oriented way of
communicating with parents, as some teachers feel they are not
getting enough of an opportunity to show parents what the students
are doing in class.
As Jim Vipond, committee member and chemistry teacher put it,
"there's quite a few things going on at the beginning of next year,
it sounds like."
Members of the tech committee present were Barb Coffey, Jackie
Meyer, Jim Vipond, Kathy Stoyak, Sarah Benner, Sandra Bronson,
Kenneth Golden, Robert Bagby and Jill Awe.
[By DEREK HURLEY]