Monett technology program makes innovative gains

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Specialists eye device maintenance as challenge

Innovations and new safeguards provided additional resources for the technology department for the Monett School District over the past year.

Technology specialists Melody Paige and Stephen McMillin studied the district's system, including reviewing requests from help desks at the middle school and high school, the ticketing system provided through Spice Works, plus an assessment from AOS Technologies, which focuses on the security of servers and devices in the system.

Innovations included:

* Deploying a new filtering and firewall system with greater capacity and protection;

* Updating the guest wireless Internet process that allows creation of more guests accounts with limited time access;

* The district's email system moved to Google Applications for Education, cited as a concern a year ago;

* Archiving of email moved to Google Vault;

* Reducing the number of pending work order tickets, compared to a year ago;

* Making the help desks more efficient and preparing to introduce a similar service at the intermediate school, where laptops are being introduced for fifth and sixth graders;

* Drawing on resources from JAMF Software, using its Casper suite for managing Apple computers, specifically to organize distribution and inventory of iPads and the laptops for the intermediate school.

Paige and McMillin noted the technology staff works well together and has earned the mutual respect of teachers, administrators and fellow staff members.

Several points of concern will warrant attention in the coming months, the technology specialists noted, such as:

* Inventory requires more complete data;

* Summer projects will increase in the coming year with the need to refresh laptops at the high school and updating the number of devices, now spread widely around the different campuses;

* Ongoing infrastructure upgrades, including in the new construction sites;

* Hardware upgrades, ongoing training for technology staff as well as professional development for educators;

* Effective communication with faculty, staff and students, identified as an ongoing process.

"The department finds themselves 'reacting' or 'scrambling' to address tech needs at the last minute when advance notice of upcoming technology events and needs are not communicated with adequate lead time," Paige and McMillin said.

Looking ahead, the specialists planned to carefully identify and organize their summer projects. They hoped to target any projects that could be finished prior to the summer break. They also saw cross-training technology staff members as a big need for the program to allow potentially seamless continuation of services which switching between staff members.

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