Hartselle board hears technology update
During the regular monthly board meeting held on Tues., May 24, Hartselle City Schools Technology Coordinator; Tim Southerland gave an update on the systems technology. The department was able to add 30 Chromebooks and a cart for each school. They had a budget of $399,000 for 2015-2016 down from $464.000 in 2014-2015.
The system will also benefit from the “Wired Act” which is in place to provide wireless broadband access to all of the state K-12 public schools. Since Hartselle already has this technology, the $54,175 they will receive can be used for other technology items.
Southerland mentioned his department, which includes himself and Anthony Blaxton, worked and completed 1,090 technology work orders for the 2015-2016 school year. The Hartselle system has 1,237 desktops, 449 Chromebooks, 289 laptops and 637 IPads. They have 2,612 devices hooked to the network. They have 160 network switches that are connected by fiber back to his office. They are able to download information at speeds up to 400mb per second and upload information at 200mb per second. This will be increasing to 500mb download speed and 400mb upload speed soon.
The system uses IBoss to help make sure the system is CIPA compliant. Southerland also uses IBoss to throttle back on the amount of bandwidth used for certain websites, such as Pandora, during testing times. During the time tests are being done online more bandwidth can be made available for testing needs.
The system uses a VOIP System for the systems phone needs. There are 380 telephones in the Hartselle system
The wireless network has 309 wireless access points. This allows for any device to connect to the Internet at any time. Students in the system are connecting 1,800 devices to the network each day.
Southerland also meets each month with the Instructional Technology Facilitators at each school. One thing the ITF’s are doing at the schools is researching applications that would benefit teachers and when they find one that works they can make a recommendation to use a particular app to further integrate technology into the classroom.
The IT department also uses GAGGLE, which is a safety management system for Google users. This adds additional controls including 24/7 filtering and review. The system has anti pornography and blocked words list. Also if a safety rep for GAGGLE deems content is life threatening they will automatically contact Southerland and Jerry Reeves, if they are not available the rep reports directly to the police.
Go Guardian is used for Chromebooks. This service has an advanced You-Tube filter and also aids in recovery of Chromebooks. It would allow for a Chromebook to be pinpointed to within 25 feet of its location.
Blackboard is a new webhosting solution that includes an integrated app and a rapid notification system. The integrated app will allow parents to keep up with their child, including their grades. This should be rolled out this fall.
Also Southerland hopes the Chalkable Online Registration will be available this fall. This will be paperless and will provide powerful analytics and reporting for the system.
In looking at trends in technology, Southerland reported that desktop computers are becoming more of just a teacher workstation. Getting away from a fixed computer to one that moves around is what is needed today. “Chromebooks are the best thing to happen in education. We even used Chromebooks for testing,” Southerland mentioned.
He also told the board according to a Horizon Report in both the short, mid and long term, Bring Your Own Devices(BYOD) will continue to be important. Also they recommended putting money into apps.
Southerland mentioned that 72% of the wireless connectivity in the system is for personal devices.
Superintendent, Dr. Vic Wilson commended Southerland and Blaxton as well as the ITF’s for the great job they are doing.