Wednesday, July 19, 2017

New Responsible Use Agreement & 1:1 Insurance

On June 27th the Exeter-West Greenwich Regional School Committee revised policy 7710 Technology - Responsible Use. Originally adopted in 1997, the policy has been updated to reflect the changing landscape of how we use Technology in the classroom today. The policy is written to apply to both staff members and students. The same form is used for either. Parents will need to sign forms for students under 18 and students from 7th grade up will also sign their forms. You can find the new form here.

We are also setup to begin accepting applications for 1:1 insurance.  The insurance is very affordable at $19 for Chromebook users and $34 for iPad users with a $0 deductible.

Repairs for devices start at $49 so a single incident would cost more than the insurance. You will need to know your student's ID number to purchase insurance. Your student should know their number as they use it for their lunch number, but if you need it you can contact the helpdesk from the email address you have on file with the school. Please include your student's name and grade.

Policy 7710: Technology - Responsible Use
Responsible Use of Technology Agreement
Worth Ave Group Insurance Flyer
Worth Ave Group: Purchase Insurance

Thursday, June 15, 2017

A good year for Aspen

What an exciting year for EWG and our Aspen users!  Quite a few changes have happened in a short time.   
Here’s just a few...
  • Metcalf went from Traditional grading to Standards Based grading for grades 3-6 
  • The new report card we designed is awesome and has been used as an example by Aspen for other districts that are trying to build new reports cards and join us in successfully implementing Standards Based reporting
  • The new elementary grading system and extended comment sections for each subject really help to track exactly how your children are doing and where they are going 
  • We also activated the Aspen Parent Portal for Metcalf and now publish report cards to the portal.    Once published, contacts can download the report, save it or print it at home.  This is a nice and easy way to save the district some money
  • Both Junior and Senior High Schools have an updated report card to include Performance Level Descriptors, Content Knowledge and Skills, and Learner Qualities in addition to the traditional grade.  Again, supplying parents and students with more information
  • These updated Jr and Sr report cards are now being published to both the Parent and Student Portals
  • Special Education Progress Reports are also being published to the Parent Portal for grades 3 – 12 

WOW!!!  We’ve been busy!   Have a fun and safe summer!

Friday, June 9, 2017

EWG Looking Into the Horizon

Throughout  the year here at EWG our school has had the great opportunity to take advantage of a very powerful software technology suite called VMware Horizon. VMware Horizon is a suite of products and technologies designed to help IT Administrators deliver desktops and applications. This helps the school district to allow students, teachers, and administrators access to programs or other resources that they may not have had access to before.

The great part about this software is it removes the requirements for a specific type of machine. That means you will no longer need a Windows based desktop to use programs like Google SketchUp. This also helps teachers to use special education programs without having to worry about remembering server credentials. The program is designed to load everything in a browser or through a client you download called VMware Horizon Client.

 Another great feature that we are able to take advantage of is the ability to provide out a full virtualized desktop infrastructure (VDI) for applications that require a high-end graphics card.  We currently have a class running here at EWG (Solidworks) that takes advantage of this solution.

Solidworks is very graphic intensive and requires a high end computer with serious power. VMware Horizon allows the students to connect to the server hosting these virutualized desktops and the server does all the rendering/ thinking with very powerful processors, lots of RAM, and specialized graphics cards made for VDI. The students can use their Chromebooks to connect to this in a web browser or the VMware Horizon client can be used which is available for PC, Mac, iPad, Android, and other devices. This lets them do their work wherever they are, not just in the computer lab!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Instructional Technology Working Group Meeting

I met with the Instructional Technology Working Group today at OSHEAN in North Kingstown. There were Instructional Technology leaders from all around the state. We had some interesting discussion around how faculty were handling flipped classroom learning and curriculum development, utilizing LMS systems, creating engaging content, and enabling teachers to utilize technology to create better content.

We also had a video conference with Patrick Crispen, EdD who is the Director of Educational Technology for the University of Southern California's (USC) Keck School of Medicine.

He gave us a demo of their Light Board technology. It's pretty cool technology, especially for faculty that are more comfortable with the idea of standing in front of a whiteboard to give a lesson. This technology flips things around so the learner is behind the whiteboard. Much more engaging than looking at video of the teacher's back while they write on the board. Professor Crispen has a really cool demo video of the technology on their website.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Rhode Island Computer Museum in North Kingstown

Dori & Oliver
I took my family to visit the Rhode Island Computer Museum this weekend. What a blast from the past! I saw some really awesome DEC PDP machines. I played with an IBM PC running PC DOS 2.1 from 1983. They have a very cool TI-99 that kids were playing games on. They had some working Apple IIe and Apple SE machines. Even an old IBM PS/1 which brought back memories. They have punch cards, handset modems (my wife can be seen holding the phone from one in the photo), magnetic core memory, teletypes, a huge selection of calculators (including a Wang calculator) and more!

After about 30 minutes of nostalgia, I saw some of the cool new tech they were working with too. Dan told me all about the workshops they hold for kids who are interested in Technology. He showed me the work they are doing with Raspberry Pi and Arduino boards, the robots they have built, the music they are programming with code, the repurposed broken toys they are giving new life to, and the green screen videos they are creating. My wife was especially impressed with the 3D Computer and the Raspberry Pi.

Dan also mentioned that they offer professional development for teachers. If you haven't already checked out the museum, I highly recommend it. They have a small space in the Meadows Office Park in North Kingstown and they are open on Saturdays. They also have a large warehouse with more equipment near Quonsett. Check out their website or their Facebook page for more info.