My network team and I replaced nearly every piece of old category-5 cable with faster, better category-6 – in many places because the aging cable had been chewed through by rodents! We upgraded the switches to handle faster gigabit traffic, installed wireless network points in every classroom, re-organized and labeled every plug and point in every switch, and in general turned an outdated, failing and frustrating mess into a fast, reliable network.
The faculty had been using Eudora, an aging platform that wouldn’t work for off-campus users. I led a task force to choose a better email system. We picked FirstClass, which has enabled an amazing level of electronic communication between students and teachers. It has ensured reliable, solid communication between teachers and parents, enhanced our website with shared calendars, allowed safe student-published blogs, and provides a venue for distance learning. It wouldn’t have been such a success without a lot of professional development and teamwork.
AES never had a comprehensive technology plan. I led a group of parents, students, and teachers who engaged in a visioning process to develop our technology goals. The technology coordinators and I worked on a strategic plan to accomplish these goals, plan a five-year technology budget, and create a professional development plan that is helping teachers integrate technology into their curriculum in meaningful ways.
The technology representatives at each grade level and department worked together to design the ideal technology-rich classroom for their specific needs. After piloting a variety of cutting-edge tools, we developed a plan to purchase, install, and train teachers in the use of the ideal set of technology: a ceiling-mounted projector, document camera, SmartBoard, and wireless access point in every classroom. I was also heavily involved in the planning, moving, budgeting, purchasing, and allocation of technology for our brand new purpose-built high school building.
Technology is never 100% reliable, but we needed a plan to make it as reliable as possible, and cover us in the event that it did fail for some reason. Between written plans, backup strategies, off-site storage, practice exercises, and tabletop drills, the technology team has a solid plan in place. This plan is crucial in the event of an evacuation, disaster, or a campus closure due to flu.
I led a committee of teachers, parents, and school board members who designed the ideal school website. Over the course of 18 months, my programming and design team worked and revised to achieve the goals outlined by the committee. We didn’t outsource the job – the work was all done in house, the photos were taken by students and teachers, and a middle school graphic design class even made decisions about the fonts. The end result (check it out – http://aes.ac.in) is a social network that ties our community together and gets over 2,500 visits per day.