Three Minute Update: August 15, 2008

First, for those of you who are not aware of this, I am thrilled to share with you some wonderful news. Neena Shaji has been promoted to the position of data manager, and will be working with Beth Prince-Bradbury in the department of program evaluation.

This is a significant promotion, and is testimony to what we have all known for a long time; Neena is a valuable member of the CCSD team, with broad expertise and a strong commitment to excellence. Though we will miss having her in our offices, we wish her the best in her new position! Congratulations again, Neena, on a job well done.

Change in student usernames – As part of our efforts to standardize usernames and build consistency between various systems, we have modified the naming convention for student accounts. In the past, student usernames consisted of the first two letters of the first name and the first seven letters of the last name. After reviewing this with various stakeholders, we agreed to change the naming convention to first name, first initial of last name, and a sequential number (if necessary). Therefore, Otis Johnson will be OtisJ, and Otis James will be OtisJ1, and so on. This will make the student account consistent across all (or nearly all) student applications and keeps the students’ needs at the center of our focus.

Username and password letter sent to 6-12 parents – We have included a letter to be mailed with the August packets for all students in grades 6-12. This letter explains some of the technology improvements completed over the summer and includes the username and password for the student.

Google Apps for Domains – Over the course of the summer a small group of users has been exploring the potential of using Google Apps for Domains as a center point in our district’s electronic toolbox. One sticking point has been the availability of questionable content available to users on their personal Start page. We have been in contact with Google a number of times, advocating for changes that would make the system more viable for use in a school environment. It seems many other forward thinking educators were doing the same thing, and Google has made changes to its Apps for Domains product that are used by educational institutions. We will test to see if it meets our needs. Below is a note from Google:

We have been hearing everyone’s feedback about the Start Page gadgets and the Google Apps Education team understands how important it is for schools and education institutions to restrict inappropriate content.

We are very happy to announce a new feature which will allow EDU administrators to limit the gadgets that users see in their Start Page. With this new feature, only official Google gadgets will show up in the ‘Add Stuff’ link.

South High School Programming Lab (Room 321) – Jim Vitale has issued a PO for the services (which include a remotely hosted server). In summary, we are paying a company to host (on their company servers, which we don’t own) the data and content that instructors have deemed essential for their programming courses. In the past, instructors had their own private website outside of the district and this brings them under the district’s umbrella. Below is the status:

  • Computers (24) and printers moved to new programming room (Shared – Done – early July)
  • Purchase order to INTCis (Jim Vitale – Done – August 12)
  • Install and configure managed switch and routing (Richard – In progress. Switch is in FFMS library)
  • Re-do wiring, and installation/configuration of 24 computers (Richard coordinates with Jack and Peter)
  • Create teacher and student user accounts on remote server (Richard, with information to be provided by Deb Tarantino)
  • Student accounts, teacher web sites, uploads, and use of server (Programming teachers)
  • Distribution of remaining 6 computer from original programming room (Richard coordinates with Peter)

SMART Board update –Most of the installs have been completed, and the speakers that were on back order have arrived. They will be installed in the upcoming weeks. Bardonia Elementary will have the boards mounted soon, and Richard Hernandez is coordinating this with the vendor. We are on schedule with all SMART Board installations. Additionally, Technology Learning Facilitator John Calvert has been busy all summer, working with groups of teachers and TA’s in how this technology can be used to improve student learning and engagement. Many 24/12 and in-service opportunities have been fully attended, and more are being scheduled as well.

Plasmas in School Lobbies – The following schools have requested plasma screens for the school lobby, installed at their expense. Principals, if you want one installed and your school is not on the list, please contact Richard Hernandez immediately, as this is our final list. Future installs would likely be in November.

  • Felix Festa (pending discussion with Dianne)
  • Lakewood
  • Little Tor
  • Link
  • North High School (pending discussion with Harry/David)
  • West Nyack
  • Woodglen

Lastly, all members of the team have been very involved in preparations for the opening of school. It is through our collective efforts that we consistently have hit the mark and are successful at keeping our eye on the prize; putting CCSD students at the center of our work and purpose.

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